The Indian American high school students who launched a nonprofit organization to share their love of math and computer programming have now developed a new tool to help kids learn coding.

Nikhil Cheerla and Vineet Kosaraju, who founded MathAndCoding last year (IW, Nov. 10, 2014 http://bit.ly/1uWPcot) through a successful Kickstarter campaign, have now created a board game called codingFarmers for kids 7 and older to learn real programming concepts.

“We have programming classes and see that these kids want to learn, but are missing skills,” Cheerla, a junior at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, Calif., told India-West.

Cheerla and Kosaraju, a junior at Harker School in San Jose, Calif., then brainstormed ideas and came up with the board game concept.

The game is played with action cards that describe actions such as “move forward by two spaces” in two ways: regular English and Java code. The game, when played, will help kids learn to connect their actions with written code and become programming literate.

Ultimately, literacy comes when the game can be played with just Java cards, enabling them to code without the assistance of the action card.

Funding for the project was reached Aug. 9 this year.

“To be able to think about programs and realize there is a new class of problems you can solve is very useful,” Cheerla said of coding. “This game can help solve that.”

Cheerla said after the game was designed, friends of theirs helped with the simulation. They then worked with a creation company and turned the idea into a tangible product.

The game is now available on their website, www.mathandcoding.com, as well as on Amazon.

“We’ve gotten pretty positive feedback from friends and family,” Cheerla said. “We don’t yet know how it will impact in the long run, but we hope it will make an impact.”

If all goes well with codingFarmers, Cheerla said the duo hopes to create additional board games to help teach coding. 

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