5 Fundamentals Every Programmer Should Know
Have you or your child been curious about learning about coding or other robotic or computer programming? Coding is quite literally a different language, so it’s understandable if you feel a bit intimidated when starting out as a beginner programmer.
But not to worry—we’re here to help point you in the right direction when you decide to begin your introduction to coding. If you or your child are interested in exploring the world of coding, a summer program like Brooks School Summer Program is a great place to learn programming fundamentals. To know where to start your coding journey, here are some basic concepts of programming languages you should know.
Why Should Students Learn Programming Fundamentals?
Programming careers are not only lucrative, but there there is a very positive job outlook for related roles such as software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers. These jobs are expected to grow by 22% by 2030.
Aside from the job stability and salaries, there are many benefits children can gain from learning the basics of coding:
- It teaches children how to think logically and differently. “To be able to code effectively, a programmer needs to use logical thinking. They need to be able to see a large problem and break it down into smaller pieces in order to solve it in an effective manner. This is called decomposition and is one of the key features of computational thinking.”
- It encourages creativity. Computer programming teaches children to experiment and gives them the confidence to be creative.
- It allows them to have fun learning math. Lessons in programming involve organizing and analyzing data, so without even realizing it, students grow their math skills while coding.
What are the Programming Fundamentals?
Variables are used to store information. They are “containers that hold information” for later use. For example, when you visit a website and a window pops up prompting you to enter in your email address, that’s a variable.
The programmer who coded this window could have named the variable “CustomerEmail,” so that when you submit your email address, it will be stored in the “CustomerEmail” variable.
2. Basic Syntax
Every programming language has a syntax—a set of rules that define particular layouts of letters and symbols—so you’ll need to know the basic syntax of the language you’re learning while coding.
For example, once you’ve declared a variable, you can assign a syntax to it. If you declare a variable named “greet,” you can assign the value “Hi there” to it. That way, wherever you include the “greet” variable, it will show up as “Hi there” to the end recipient.
3. Data Structures
When a large amount of related data is involved, programmers create what are called data structures. Going back to our “CustomerEmail” example of variables, the programmer would create a data structure to hold each related variable—in this case, the data structure would be a list containing customer email addresses. Rather than creating a different variable for every customer’s email, you can use the same one (“CustomerEmail”) and store them together in a list.
4. Control Structures
Control structures are work flows created by programmers. They are “commands that allow a program to “decide” to take one direction or another,” meaning they define a process in your code so that the computer understands where to go next.
For example, as a computer program runs, the computer reads the code one line at a time, from top to bottom and left to right. Eventually, the computer reaches a point in the code where it needs to make a decision, based on the parameters set by the programmer—it could decide to
As the code is being read, the computer will reach a point where it needs to make a “decision” (based on strict rules set by the computer programmer). At this point, the code could do things like “jump to a different part of the program, re-run a certain piece of code again, or simply skip a block of code altogether.”
Debugging is a vital part of programming. It’s a process that involves identifying existing and potential problems and errors, finding the source of those problems, and correcting them.
Learn the Basics of Coding at Brooks Summer School
Now that you have an idea of the basics you’ll need to know as a programmer, don’t be afraid to jump right into it. At Brooks, we offer students in grades 7-12 an introduction to coding in a small classroom setting with highly qualified instructors—creating the perfect environment to advance academically.
Our Fundamentals of Programming course allows curious and aspiring engineers to delve in to the fundamental concepts of programming and robotics. Students will design, build and program their robot for various games, experiments, and team challenges. If you have never worked with robotics, come see what the buzz is all about. If you are an experienced robot builder, come strengthen your skills.