Fall 2016: Workout #2


We had a great kickoff last week! Good job coders!

Just a couple reminders:

  • Parents make sure you don’t leave your child’s side until they are successfully logged in and ready to code.
  • Also remember you need to stay on the premises.
  • And I hope everyone who has earned a belt wears it with pride!

Novice Coders

These are coders who are just getting started. If you are new to coding in general or just new to Scratch (the language we use to get started) this is the group for you. If you’ve started to feel more comfortable and want to see what the Intermediate crew is doing, read down below and see if that appeals to you. You can move between groups to find the best match for you.

Today we are going to continue to familiarize ourselves with the Scratch interface. We will start with a project that comes out of a resource that we have used quite a bit before. This is a resource created by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. It was specifically created to help kids explore and be creative and is aptly named Creative Computing. A link to the workbook in its entirety can be found here. I’ve broken it out chapter by chapter on our Kata page. The project we will work on is called 10 Blocks and can be found in Unit 1 in the Creative Computing resource. This is a great project because you don’t have to feel overwhelmed by all of the options that Scratch provides you. Instead you are purposefully constrained to use just the 10 blocks listed in the exercise. Feel free to use blocks more than once just try to stick to just the ten blocks allowed.

After you have played around with your 10 block project go ahead and share it by clicking the share button on the top right of the screen. Make sure you give it a name and somehow indicate it is a 10 Blocker. Next link it to our fall studio. Ask around if you are having trouble doing this. Once you have your project linked into the Studio, wait for other people to get theirs up. Better yet, go help them! Once we’ve got our projects in the studio, check out what other people did with their 10 Blocks. Want to know how they did something? Just ask them. Think they did a good job? Let them know in the comment section of the project. Check inside to see how the code works. Want to play with it yourself? Remix it and get a copy of your own that you can modify to your hearts content. Have fun!

Sometimes when we write code it doesn’t behave like we expect. The process of finding these problems and fixing them is called debugging. Want to know the origin of this expression? Read this! And this! Let’s do some debugging. Another thing coders do is work in pairs. Let’s give that a try. Pair up and try to figure out what’s wrong with any of these buggy projects:

With the time remaining, have fun and code up whatever you like. Make some noise, splashes of color, be silly, be serious. Whatever you want.

Intermediate Coders

Who are intermediate coders? Coders who have done some scratch coding before and who don’t need quite as much supervision. Sound like you? Great! Let’s get going.

Today we have a special treat. Mentor Ed is going to demo an mBot robot. (You can find these at Radio Shack for a very reasonable price). After the demo, you’ll have a chance to try to put one together. The Dojo recently acquired 2 so we’ll have to share but they look really cool! You can program these little robots using a modified version of Scratch. So you should feel right at home!

Update: Here are some links to information that Ed talked about during the demo

After the demo if you want to work with the mBots, we might have to organize a way to share who gets to use it. Maybe we can write a Scratch project to schedule the usage!

If you’d rather just keep going with Scratch I have a couple project ideas for you. Do you like music? Why don’t you try to take the Build a Band project from the Creative Computing resource one step further. First find a partner or two and arrange your desks in a group. The original Build a Band project is in Unit 2. Can you add more sprites to build a big band? Can you figure out how to record the sequence of notes you play and then play them back later? Can you record new things while your old clip is looping through? Make it as easy or as complicated as you want.

Another project idea is a Choose Your Own Adventure. Start telling a story and every so often have the person using your project decide what to do next. Give them two choices. An example to start off is

“You are playing in your back yard when suddenly a spaceship lands and a door opens up. Do you go in the door? [space bar] or Run inside your house! [R key]”

Then depending on what key gets pressed continue on your story. Again work in a group with this one. Let each team member work on their piece of the story. Share the pieces and then assemble the whole story into one project! I can’t wait to see it!

Like last meeting when you have completed your project, share it and put it in this fall’s Coder Dojo studio. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Submit it when you are far enough along that people know what you are trying to do. After your fellow coders start to put theirs up, take a look and see what other coders have been working on.

Advanced Coders

What is the difference between an advanced coder and an intermediate coder? A couple of things. First an advanced coder knows Scratch or some other programming language pretty well. Second, and this is pretty important, an advanced coder is able to stay motivated and on task on their own. If you find yourself unable to resist the call of the latest web game, the intermediate coders are your people. If you forget to eat because you are still trying to figure out how to get the next feature to work in your project, you are probably an advanced coder. Now go eat!

Today we are going to working on our mentoring skills and start work on our longer term project. So first, go and see if anyone needs help. Once they’ve gotten started, wish them luck and get your coding on!

As advanced coders, you are the top dogs of the Dojo. You get to help set what direction we go. Anyone want to work on a Scratch Jr version of the getting started with Scratch tutorial? Want to figure out what you need to run Scratchx on your computer? Scratchx is a version of scratch that lets you talk to a micro controller (a super tiny “computer” if you will) that can run small programs and is good at interacting with sensors. Do you want to help me get the yellow belt scratch project ready? Do you want to plan your own super fun project? The choice is yours! Make the most of your time.