Students from age 5 to 28 learning to code with Swift during EU Code Week

EU Code Week starts on Saturday — and bizarrely lasts for 16 days. I guess EU Code Fortnight And Two More Days doesn’t have the same ring to it.

EU Code Week is a grassroots movement that celebrates creativity, problem solving, and collaboration through programming and other tech activities. The idea is to make programming more visible, to show young, adults, and elderly how you bring ideas to life with code, to demystify these skills and bring motivated people together to learn.

That quirk aside, Apple has been providing examples of how its own Swift training materials are helping students of all ages learn to code, starting from age 5…

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This October, in classrooms across Europe celebrating EU Code Week, students of all ages are living proof that coding opens doors to opportunities never before possible. At Layton Primary School in Blackpool, England, coding principles are helping 5- and 6-year-olds track down a rogue dinosaur. And in Italy, at Milan’s Institute De Amicis, coding is the key that unlocked a life-changing career for 28-year-old Belinda Tagariello.

These schools are part of a growing number of European institutions relying on the power and versatility of iPad, Mac, and Apple’s Everyone Can Code and App Development with Swift curricula to teach coding to a new generation of students.

One teacher at a primary school says that the benefits go well beyond computer skills.

“Children would sit there [before] and wait for things to happen,” says Clare Scott, 45, who has been teaching for more than 20 years. “But children with a coding mentality know that if they do something, something will happen. There will be an output if they put in an input — they are more resourceful in terms of being able to tackle problems.”

With the youngest children, the goal is getting them to understand the core principle of coding: breaking down a task into a set of line-by-line instructions.

In Scott’s classroom, her 5- and 6-year-old students practice coding skills in tasks both ordinary and extraordinary. She posed a problem to them: How do you get an escaped dinosaur back into the zoo? Her students decided they would make jam sandwiches and leave them out for the creature.

Scott brought in bread, butter, and jam and asked her students to give her step-by-step instructions on how to construct the sandwich. The exercise introduced them to the individual commands required to execute a coding sequence.

I’m not sure Apple’s chosen example of adult training is the best: The company cites a student who signed up for a Swift course in 2017 and now teaches it. But in that time, she has launched only one app and is working on a second, while the 41 students who completed the course have only produced 14 apps between them over two years. Still, there’s no doubting the benefit of introducing students to coding as early as possible.

Swift usage has more than doubled in iOS 13, while Swift Playgrounds for iPad has been updated with Dark Mode support, Learn to Code enhancements, and more.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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