Computer programming

Where can I find information about computer programming?

Junior Secondary

(Years 7-10)

Binary code on a screen showing a series of zeroes and ones.

Image: Binary code by Christiaan Colen on Flickr.

Entry last updated: 26/05/22

Introduction

Computer programming is a way of giving computers instructions about what they should do. These instructions are known as code or software. Computer programmers write code in many different coding languages to solve problems or perform a task.

Coding Languages

There are many computer coding languages such as Python, Java and C and they are used to achieve many different results. There are plenty of good websites with information on these languages. Here are some of our favourite sites.

Britannica School

This online version of the Encyclopedia Britannica is a reliable website with great information about computer programming. This is one of the EPIC databases — a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.

  • Select Secondary and enter the keywords 'computer program' into the search bar.
  • Choose the article called computer program for an explanation of what programs can do, or try computer programming language to explore the wide range of languages that exist.
  • Use the Related section to explore more.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Computer Science Field Guide

This website is a free online interactive resource created in New Zealand for high school students learning about computer science.

  • Select Chapters from the top of the page to explore the topics covered.
  • Have a look at Coding - Introduction for a good explanation of coding.
  • Check out Programming Languages to find out what happens when you write and run a program.

Tips: You may notice the words 'programme' and 'program' spelt differently in this entry. According to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary — 'programme' is British spelling and 'program' is American, but when referring to computer code, both British and American spell 'program' the same way.

How to code

If you want to learn how to code, there are free resources on the internet to help with this, starting from the basics. Here are some sites that we like.

Khan Academy

If you like to learn by watching and listening, the Khan Academy is an educational website with lots of videos and articles.

  • Go to Courses at the top left hand side of the screen.
  • Look for the topic on Computing, then choose Computer Programming.
  • Browse the introductory and advanced courses on the coding languages which are covered, such as HTML, JS (JavaScript) and SQL.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are. For example the Aboutlink on the Khan Academy page shows us that Khan Academy is partnered with lots of other reliable organisations, like NASA and MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a very prestigious university).

App creation

App is short for word 'application'. It is a computer program designed to run on a mobile device such as a phone or tablet. Here are some useful websites which can teach you how to build an app, even if you are a beginner.

Scratch

Scratch is a free website designed especially for ages 8 to 16. You can program your own interactive stories, games and animations. You will need to sign in to save your work.

  • Go to Start Creating on the left side of the screen.
  • Then watch the getStartedtutorial video.
  • Go to Tutorials at the top of the screen to explore what else you can create. Each project has its own video tutorial.

Tips: A website’s address (URL) can give you a hint about how reliable it is. Look for addresses in the results that include .gov or .edu in the URL. These are quality sites from an overseas government or educational organisations.

Code.org

Code.org® is a nonprofit organisation with an aim to make learning computer science available to all schools. It has a fantastic range of resources. You will need to sign in to allow you to save your work.

  • Go to Start Learning at the top centre of the screen and explore the options on offer.
  • Check out the Hour of Code tutorials designed for all ages and create your own dance party or design a maze.
  • Try the computer science fundamentals - an express course which will help you to design and create many projects.

Tips: if you go to the About us page, you will read that Code.org is supported by donors like Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, the Infosys Foundation, Google and many more.

appinventor.org

Never coded but want to learn how to build apps? This free website lets you learn how to build android apps and starts at the very beginning with video and text-based lessons.

  • Go to Start learning now in the centre of the screen and work your way through the modules. You will learn how to build different types of games and apps.

Books

There are many books that have been written about this topic — check out your local public or school library to see what they have. Here are some recommended titles:

SCIS no. 5379186

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