Interdisciplinary NetsBlox project makes computer programming intuitive

Vanderbilt University Professor of Computer Engineering Akos Ledeczi doesn’t want everyone to become a programmer.

But understanding how computers think, interact, and do what we want them to do – those are 21st century skills, he said.


In NetsBlox, a visual programming environment, Ledeczi and an interdisciplinary team are developing a teaching tool that introduces the basics and a high-level view of distributed computing. The team has worked with students as young as middle schoolers and has several upcoming camps and workshops with young learners as well as high school students.

NetsBlox is built on top of Snap!, an environment created at the University of California at Berkeley. Snap! is based on Scratch, the best-known programming tool for kids from the MIT Media Lab. Young students use Scratch to create basic Pong-like games, animations or virtual stories. Snap!, a visual drag-and-drop programming language, picks up where Scratch leaves off, making it an appropriate introduction to computer science for high school and college students.

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