6 Projects to Teach Your Kids Computing with Linux This Summer

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It’s official. In the words of glam rock legend Alice Cooper, school’s out for summer.

There’s no more class. No more school run. No more homework. Just long, endless summer days that seemingly drag on forever. But how do you keep your child occupied during those long, summer months? Perhaps more importantly, how do you keep your child occupied and entertained whilst teaching them an important career skill, like computing? computer science computer science computer science computer science computer science

If you’re looking for inspiration, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. Check out these six projects that’ll teach your child the basics of computing, with Linux at the center of them all.

Build A Game or Phone App With Kivy

The Python programming language is a favored introductory programming language taught in computer science classes in the US and the UK, thanks to its uncomplicated syntax and the ease in which it can be learned. One of the advantages of Python above other languages – like MIT’s Scratch (we’ll get to that later) – is its broad supply of plugins and libraries.  computer science computer science computer science computer science computer science

Libraries are used to extend the functionality of a program. There are hundreds of thousands of them for Python. One popular library is Kivy, which makes it possible to develop games and apps for the desktop, and for mobile devices.  computer science computer science computer science computer science computer science

With Kivy, you can build a sophisticated mobile game for iOS and Android – like Pong – with just a few hundred lines of code. You can even build desktop games and applications for Windows, OS X and Linux.

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linuxcode-pong

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And because it’s Python, you’re still using the same, gentle syntax your child has probably learned in school.

A good starting point for learning Kivy is on the official Kivy documentation, where they’ve built a simple Pong game. Here, you can learn how with a few lines of code, you can place objects onto the screen, control the game’s physics, and even keep track of scores.  computer science computer science computer science computer science computer science

This demo game is licensed under the MIT license – a free, permissive software license that permits making modifications and copies – so you can turn it into your own game, and share it online without having to ask permission first. You can even build Android APKs, and distribute your Kivy game on the Apple app store. But for a more guided tutorial for Kivy, check out Richard Jones’s PyCon Montreal talk.

Installing Kivy on Linux is easy. If you’re using a Debian based distro, do this.  computer science computer science computer science computer science computer science

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kivy-team/kivy
sudo apt-get install python-kivy
Instructions on how to install Ubuntu for OpenSUSE, Gentoo and Fedora can be found here.

Learn The Fundamentals of Code With Scratch  computer science computer science computer science computer science computer science

If you’ve got a younger child who is yet to take a formal computer science lesson, and you want to introduce them to programming, you might want to consider installing Scratch – available for OS X, Windows and Linux.

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