How do you explain an if statement to an 8 year old?
I recently volunteered at a coding workshop for primary school girls. Teaching kids is a completely different game. I wondered how I was going to explain the same programming concepts my university lecturer covered a few weeks ago.
Many of the girls were massive Harry Potter fans, just like me. They all wanted to wave the wand and cast Wingardium Leviosa on a feather. Many of the girls soon asked me - can we create our own spells? Of course!
We had a look through the spell list. One girl announced, "My favourite spell is Avada Kedavra". Unfortunately, the developers didn't include any of the Unforgivable Curses.
After choosing a spell (that wouldn't send us all to Azkaban), I asked the girls, what do you want to happen? Some wanted to conjure a glass of Butterbeer, others wanted beans to grow in size, or to make a car disappear. We dragged and drop the code into place.
And secretly, we were coding. If I cast Serpensortia, a serpent will be conjured. If I cast Wingardium Leviosa, all the books will levitate. If I cast Impedimenta, all the Cornish Pixies will freeze. I never said the phrase "if statement", but the girls quickly grasped the concept and they had to be dragged away from the wands by their parents!
I am an adult and a software engineer, but secretly I feel like a kid being paid to write spells all day. With a few special words, we can make incredible things happen (swish and flick optional).