Saturday, November 24, 2012

Code Maven and programming for teens

I recently launched Code Maven from Crunchzilla. It helps teens learn a little about what they can do if they learn more about programming.

A lot of teens are curious about programming these days, but don't end up doing any. And, it's true, if you are a teen who wants to learn programming, you either have to use tutorials, books, and classes made for adults (which have a heavy focus on syntax and are slow to let you do anything) or high level tools that let you build games but teach a specialized programming language you can't use anywhere else. Maybe something else might be useful to help more teens get started and get interested.

Code Maven lets teens learn a little about how to program, starting with basic concepts such as loops then rapidly getting into fractals, animation, physics, and games. In every lesson, all the code is there -- in some cases, a complete physics engine with gravity, frame rate, friction, and other code you can modify -- and it is all live Javascript, so the impact of any change is immediate. It's a fun way to explore what programming can do.

Code Maven is a curious blend of a game and a tutorial. Like a tutorial, it's step-by-step, and there's not-too-big, not-too-small challenges at each step. Like a game, it's fun, addictive, and experimentation can yield exciting (and often very cool) results. I hope you and your friends like it. Please try Code Maven, tell your friends about it, and, if you have suggestions or feedback, please e-mail me at

Code Maven builds on Code Monster. Code Monster is for kids ages 9-14 (but many even younger have enjoyed it too, especially with a little help). Code Maven is for teens ages 13-18 (and curious adults too, especially adults who have never programmed before). Because Code Maven is built for older kids, it assumes a longer attention span, and so is a bit harder, has more explanation, and has some additional fun projects. Pick which one you like based on the age of your kids and your interest. You can try them both at!