Computer science continues to rank as one of the fastest growing industries, with 15% growth projected between 2019 and 2029. This rapid growth has led to increased demand for quality computer scientists: a demand which will soon be fulfilled by the high schoolers of today! Teenage years are a great time to start building programming skills, and there are many online resources which teach coding for sixteen year olds. Today we'll explore free and paid courses, and self-guided books and interactive platforms, to help 11th graders get started with coding and enjoy learning.
Explore Coding for 16 Year Olds
Let's take a look at some programs that can help eleventh graders develop a passion for computer science and lifelong learning. This coding curriculum for grade 11- from the award-winning company Create & Learn equips students with the skills to work in a wide range of computer science fields. Future game developers can experience industry-standard game engines like Unity, creatives can explore Wix to learn website design, and future data scientists can experiment with Python and Pandas. These topics are great for sixteen year olds because they possess the math and critical thinking skills necessary for grasping the material. We recommend beginning with foundational classes, progressing through our intermediate classes based on personal interests, and then letting ambitious learners tackle our advanced classes.
Top Free Coding Programs for 16 Year Olds
One can find a plethora of websites dedicated to teaching programming online; however, few offer education at the level of Create & Learn. With curricula designed from former employees of Google, Apple, and Uber, as well as teachers with industry experience, they offer a robust program that will benefit students immensely in their studies. In addition to their paid courses, they actually offer free coding classes to try first, so you can find out what sparks your teen's interests!
As a general rule for sixteen year olds, the best starting point is likely learning the real-world programming language Python. This is an excellent choice because Python is widely-used across fields in computer science; beginner-friendly and; there are many existing tutorials and resources available for it.
1. Free Python
For students curious about coding but not sure where to start, Create & Learn’s Python for AI intro is a smart option. During this free, instructor-led course, students will create their own animation with Python’s turtle graphics module. Python is the most beginner-friendly real-world programming language, and today is used by top companies including Netflix and Spotify. From here, students can advance to the full paid Python for AI course, which takes students from simple concepts through object-oriented design principles and more.
Many teenagers have, at some point in their lives, played a Roblox game. But did you know that Roblox Studio (the tool used to build Roblox games) is also an excellent tool for learning to code? Teenagers with an interest in game design will get to install and activate Roblox Studio, plus finish a self-paced tutorial to create a simple interactive experience. Students who enjoy the course can then advance to the full-length paid course, in which they get to build increasingly sophisticated games to share with the world!
Top Coding Classes for 16 Year Olds
Create & Learn offers some of the best online coding classes for teens, considering both their quality and the benefits they offer students. Class sizes are typically 2-5 students, which means every student has the chance to ask questions and receive teacher feedback. All teachers at Create & Learn have extensive teaching experience and/or experience working in the computer science industry. Unlike other programs, Create & Learn offers courses across a wide range of computer-related subjects, from AI to robotics to game design and more. Plus, there’s minimal risk when trying out courses due to Create & Learn’s satisfaction guarantee, which ensures students can switch their enrollment if they aren’t enjoying their current course.
Mobile apps are an essential part of the tech sphere industry, so learning to build apps is a great skill for future coding pro. This course teaches app design using Thunkable, a professional, block-based coding tool. Because it utilizes block code, it’s a great starting point for those who have never programmed before. Not only will students learn basic coding principles such as loops, variables, etc., but also they will experience cloud-based technologies such as Amazon Firebase!
Python is one of the most popular programming languages in the world, and is widely-utilized across industries from web servers to data science and more. It is also a popular language for introducing teenagers to coding, due to its simple syntax and typing. Through this course, students will learn important foundational concepts of programming, including conditional statements, variables, loops, and functions. As they progress, they will eventually have a chance to work with AI using Python!
Creative students with an interest in design are a great fit for the Wix web design course. Wix is an industry-standard page building platform, and is an excellent tool for no-code/low code web design. Students will explore proper website design, structure, theming, and templating, through building four different websites about subjects of their choice. Plus, they can learn how to integrate payments into their website, a key functionality in modern web stores!
After completing the Free Roblox Intro course, teenagers can advance to the full Roblox Studio course. They will learn about scripting and dealing with multi-player games - which are both useful skills for game development. What’s fun about this course is that students have ample room to take artistic liberties with their games, and tailor the projects to their own interests!
Many classes for high school students focus strictly on programming; APCSP, however, aims to introduce students to the wider fields of computer science. It’s an excellent course for teenagers who want a greater understanding of how computers “work” at a fundamental level. Students will adventure into the fields of networking, encryption, encoding, and more during their studies. This is an extended course, running for 12 sessions, and students should have prior experience with Python before beginning this course.
Mathematically-inclined students should consider exploring data science using Python and Pandas. Pandas allows students to experiment with sanitizing and manipulating data, as well as performing meaningful analysis of large data sets. 16 year olds will have ample opportunity to push the limits of their critical thinking while analyzing a topic they are passionate about. Note that students must have completed at least Python for AI III prior to enrolling in this course.
Your teenager can take their passion for video games to the next level by learning to build their own complex, 2-D and 3-D games using Unity. Unity is a tool utilized by small developers and AAA companies alike, allowing people to efficiently design high-quality games. Game design is a fantastic way for students to combine creative (design/graphics) with technical skills (coding/physics) in a meaningful way. Please note that students should have prior experience with a text-based language prior to enrolling, and will need a computer with at least 8 GB of RAM (learn how to check your RAM here).
Companies everywhere are moving into the cloud (if they aren’t there already), so an understanding of cloud computing is critical for budding software developers. With this class, students will create their own web applications, manage authentication, and build multiplayer games using Firebase. This class is great for 16 year olds as it goes beyond coding by diving into system architecture and the larger ecosystem of software design.
AP Computer Science A is a thorough dive into programming with Java, enabling students to explore computer science at a collegiate difficulty level while still in high school. Unlike Create & Learn’s other courses, the APCSA course is built on code.org’s College Board certified curriculum. The course is 16 or 32 classes long, and will thoroughly prepare students to succeed on the AP exam. This is an excellent choice for 16 year olds planning to major in computer science during college, especially considering they can earn college credit if they perform well on the AP exam.
For those students who have already worked with the Java programming language, the Android Game Building class is an excellent way to deepen those skills. Students will build a different Android project each session, allowing the developer a strong understanding of object-oriented design, as well as data structures and other important coding concepts. This course will prove invaluable to students interested in creating their own apps in the future. Note that students need access to a computer with at least 8 GB of RAM; additionally, it can help to have an Android device for testing (although it is not required).
11. AI Creators
With AI-based tools like ChatGPT exploding in popularity, it is a good idea for developing computer scientists to experiment with AI. Through this class, students will use a range of tools, including Python-based packages and the Google Vision API, to create their own models and learn the basics of creating AI tools. Students interested in pushing the boundaries of computer science will definitely be interested in this course. Note that students should have prior experience with Python and a computer with at least 8 GB of RAM.
Self-Guided Coding for Eleventh Graders
The learning doesn’t have to stop when class ends! Students can read coding books for teens to supplement their education. For instance, students can check out a book like Python for Teenagers, where they can explore additional exercises and projects. It’s a great way to build upon the skills developed during synchronous classes. Students who want a hands-on approach and to push themselves can try a supplemental online resource such as the interactive W3Schools platform.
Enjoy Coding for 16 Year Olds
At Create & Learn, there are so many subject areas teenagers can enjoy, whether they are interested in AI, web design, cloud computing, and more. Help your student thrive by enrolling them in coding courses for teens! And while your student is waiting for class to get started, encourage them to try this basic tutorial for making Python turtle graphics or a more advanced tutorial for creating AI using Python.
Written by Create & Learn instructor Dominic Occhietti. Dominic is a graduate of Michigan State University, where he studied music performance and computer science. He thoroughly enjoys teaching, whether that be coding classes, French horn lessons, or even downhill skiing lessons!