Fall 2016: Workout #3


Welcome back 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!

A note from last meeting when Ed gave an Arduino demo. Here are some links to things he referred to.

If you are looking to purchase an Arduino for yourself the name brand sells at premium but knock off versions are readily available. An Arduino Uno R3 is a good starting point. Knockoffs are readily available on Amazon for less than $10. For general hardware needs, I like two hardware companies in particular because the first, Adafruit, is a US company with domestic manufacturing and they provide incredibly helpful documentation and tutorials. The second, Sparkfun, also is a US company and provides great support. Once you are more comfortable with the hardware scene you can buy things essentially direct from China on eBay at incredibly cheep prices. But you are mostly on your own trying to figure out the device!

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 will be returning to our Creative Computing resource. This time we will be making music following and expanding on the ‘Build a Band‘ exercise (page 45 in Unit 2). The basic idea is to have your sprites play a sound when you click on them. Let’s explore the blocks in the Sound category. What instruments do you want to use?

After you have created your ‘Band’ 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 Band project. 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 how other people made their Band. 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 heart’s content. This week let’s also do a gallery walk. Set up your project in gallery mode (set to full screen). Then let’s walk around the room and you can demo your project for the group.

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.

Did you like the hardware demo from last meeting? What can you do with the mBot? I’m going to bring some Arduino’s and some sensors. I’m putting together a couple challenges to see what you can do with them!

If you’d rather just keep going with Scratch I have some more project ideas for you. This week let’s work on some games because who doesn’t like games?!? Again let’s arrange ourselves into some groups. How about each group works on a different style game for the first part of the workout. Then challenge another group to play your game! After they try playing it for a bit. Ask them for some suggestions how to make it even better! Can you add a score? How about some music? Can you add some sort of bad guy if it makes sense with your game? What about different levels? There are several start games that you can jump off from if you want a head start. Check out any one of these (they all come out of Unit 4 of the Creative Computing resource):

Like last meeting when you have completed your project, share it and put it in this fall’s Coder Dojo studio. Is this studio getting too crowded? Should we make a new one?

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.