The 5 Best Computer Science Activities for Middle Schools

When it comes to teaching computer science, it can be hard to find quality resources to bring to your students. The list below includes computer science activities and curriculum to engage your students from their first line of code to creating their favorite programs.

 

1. BrainPOP Creative Coding

 Best computer science activities for middle school

BrainPOP is an animated, educational site for kids that was founded in 1999 by Dr. Avraham Kadar. His goal was to explain difficult concepts to his young patients. Soon after, it evolved into a trusted learning resource. Schools, districts, and home classrooms can sign up for monthly or yearly subscriptions. Afterward they can access a multitude of online classes that supports core and supplemental subjects like Science, English, Math, and Engineering & Tech.

BrainPOP offers a series of creative coding activities integrated into the topics they cover. They gear this unit toward middle schoolers by offering engaging learning games, animated movies, and activities. Their creative coding projects make use of stop motion animation, meme, doodle augmented reality, and newscast, making the subject matter fun and topical.

 

2. Code.org

 Best computer science activities for middle school

Code.org is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools, and a great place for students to start. Among their middle school computer curriculum lesson plans is Computer Science Discoveries. This course is appropriate for 6-10th grade students and can be taught as a semester or year long introductory course. It takes a wide lens on computer science by covering topics such as programming, physical computing, HTML/CSS, and data. Students engage with computer science as a medium for creativity, communication, problem solving, and fun. The course inspires students with interactive activities as they build their own websites, apps, games, and physical computing devices.

Their middle school computer science syllabi focus on a broad introduction to computer science topics. After making it through their introductory courses, classrooms and schools can purchase more advanced computer science curriculum and development tools.

 

3. Codesters (Python)

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Codesters combines a fun online coding platform for middle school students, a powerful learning management system for teachers, and built-out computer science lesson plans so you can start teaching kids to code right away.

With Codesters, students create their programs in Python - a text-based programming language that is widely used in making web applications. Students can drag and drop commands from a Drag-to-Text Toolkit, lowering the barrier to entry so they can get started right away. Alternatively, they can also type directly into the code editor without using the toolkit. Text in the editor is color coded to help students distinguish between variables, strings, integers, functions, etc. This is a great coding platform for middle school students; provides interactivity and lets students add sprites and animation so they can make engaging projects right away.

The Learning Management System integrated within the Coding Platform is robust enough to allow teachers to monitor student work, which is automatically graded. 

 

4. Khan Academy:


Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard so students can study in and outside of the classroom. They offer a variety of courses in math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics, and more. The middle school computer science lesson plans include everything from HTML/CSS to Javascript and algorithms.

 

5. Vidcode

 Best computer science activities for middle school

Self promotion moment! Vidcode provides a pathway to competency in computer science, from a foundational creative coding course to an advanced college-level AP Computer course. Students can upload their own videos and photos and customize them with real code, not just blocks. They can create things they love, like memes, Snapchat-like effects and music videos that align to any content area. Vidcode courses a fun and creative way for middle schoolers to learn in a rigorous and fun way.

Two of Vidcode’s most popular middle school computer science courses are Creative Coding 1 and 2. With Creative Coding 1, students learn the material equivalent to a semester long intro to programming course in college and will be able to program in JavaScript. They use NO video tutorials and provide skill building written tutorials, quizzes, assessment, challenge problems and unit tests. In Creativing Coding 2, students complete projects that build on the concepts covered in Creative Coding 1 and learn about different applications of JavaScript programming including interactivity, algorithms, and data art.

 Best computer science courses for middle school
 
  coding for middle school students
 

Their classroom management system and teacher resources enable non-tech teachers to seamlessly facilitate the Vidcode curriculum. These lesson plans are available to single classrooms, schools, and entire school districts. The curriculum can also be customized for schools, districts, large non-profits and networks.

 

Ready to take the next step to empower the students in your district with computer science skills? Schedule a 1:1 consultation to learn more about bringing coding to your students.