Alex Foyt might only be 12 years old, but he’s already a six-year veteran of the mobile development industry with 98 titles to his credit. His secret? Lua, a kid-friendly programming language. Another Lua user is Robert Nay. At age 14 he built a game called Bubble Ball, which iOS users have downloaded more than 15 million times.
In addition to Lua, other simple languages like Alice and Scratch are also gaining new elementary-school-aged users. “In the last few years, we’ve seen this explosion of engaging students and in teaching them the basic concepts,” said Chris Stephenson, executive director of the Computer Science Teachers Association. “Alice, Scratch — they’re becoming incredibly popular because students love them and can do real, creative things with them.”
Teachers say that when kids start programming at an early age, they find it easier to transition to more traditional languages later on. Brook Osborne, director of outreach at Duke University’s department of computer science explained, “When you understand the concepts of programming and how to think like a developer, learning the syntax isn’t a problem anymore.”