Programming to understand the world
‘We are surrounded by software and thus it is important that every child learns to program,’ says Felienne Hermans, associate professor at the Leiden Institute for Advanced Computer Science (LIACS). Hermans won the Dutch Prize for ICT Research 2021 in January, after which NRC interviewed her about her research and what she wants to achieve with it.
Programming in elementary school
One of Hermans’ aims is to get as many children as possible into programming. Because much of today's news is digital, she believes it is important that children get in touch with programming at elementary school. ‘That is part of citizenship,’ says Hermans. In addition, programming education in elementary school improves the chances that women and girls will choose computer science, because they are less exposed to the stereotypes that still prevail within computer science. To make programming accessible to children, Hermans developed the now globally successful programming language Hedy, which lets children transition to the ‘adult’ programming language Python in several steps.
In addition to the many successes she has achieved recently, a piece of her PhD research has now been implemented in Microsoft Excel. Hermans: ‘A part of a formula that you often use in Excel can now be given a name instead of having to type it in again and again.’
The entire article can be read on the NRC website (in Dutch).