Fall 2017: Workout #1 (10/1)

Welcome to the Fall Season

Welcome everybody to the fall season of CoderDojo NOVA! We are going to have a strong emphasis on working toward a project to enter into the Cool Code Awards event which will be held on Saturday 12/9. Don’t worry! We will be introducing the Novice (beginner) coders to a fun language called Scratch. Returning veterans should use today to do some thinking on what they want to work on this season. We want to encourage you to work toward a project that you can enter into the Cool Code Awards event but that is not a requirement. Keep reading below for ideas!


  • Parents make sure you don’t leave your child’s side until they are successfully logged in and ready to code!
  • If you were unable to bring a laptop, try to find a partner for your child so they can do some pair programming.
  • Also remember you need to stay on the premises.
  • And I hope everyone who has earned a belt wears it with pride!
  • Want to give some feedback? Fill out this form
  • Room assignments are not a hard and fast rule. We just want to divide up somewhat evenly to spread the WiFi use!

Novice Coders: Overview [Room 320]

  • If you don’t have a Scratch login, set one up at scratch.edu.mit
  • Work through the Getting Started With Scratch tutorial
  • Decide on the next tutorial Animate A Name or Make It Fly
  • Share your Animate A Name or Make It Fly project in our Fall studio
  • Check out other coder’s projects

Novice Coders: Details

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.

Today we are going to work through the Getting Started With Scratch tutorial. This will familiarize the coders with the Scratch interface and give you a basic sense of how the programming environment works.

After you have finished that tutorial, decide if you want to make a project where you animate your name or a project where you make a character (a sprite) fly! If you want to animate your name work through the Animate A Name tutorial. If you want to make a character fly, work through the Make It Fly tutorial.

A fun part of the Scratch programming environment is the ability to share your work and have others “remix” it. I’ve created a studio to help facilitate sharing our work. Check out our Fall studio. After you’ve made some good progress on your project, share it and go ahead and add it to our fall studio. Don’t know how to do it? Ask a fellow coder. Ask three, then ask me. 🙂 You might need help from your parent for this step. Parents have to confirm that a coder can share projects on the web site.

Now that you have shared your project, look and see what other projects are in our studio. Find another Step by Step. See what they did. Remix it and add your own personal flair. Make it your own.

With the time remaining, look at some of the Feature Projects on the Scratch main page. Find any you like? What did you like about it?

Everybody Else

This season the focus will be on a project for the Cool Code Awards event. Let’s use this session to find just the right project. Let’s explore and see if we can find something that interests you.

Scratch Project Ideas [Room 321]

The Scratch programming language has a lot of features! How much have you explored? Any project that you create in Scratch should have sufficient complexity that it demonstrates your knowledge of many of the features of Scratch. Here are some concepts that will help you start thinking about a big fat Scratch project:

  • Do you like to tell stories? Use Scratch to tell an animated story. Here is an example
  • Do you like games? So do many other Scratchers!
  • Some coders make tutorials like this
  • Some artists make speed drawing demos like this
  • Some scientists make simulations like this
  • Some mathematicians do calculations like this

What can you come up with?

Python Project Resources [Room 317]

There are a number of options of what version and distribution to install. Mac’s come with a version pre-installed. So as a starting point you could roll with that. But I recommend the Anaconda distribution because just about everything you will need is already included.

I recently was shown an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) {the tool you use to write your code} that looks really nice.

The CoderDojo website also has tutorials and resources about Python.

You can also try CodeAcademy‘s tutorial to learn python.

Another good resource is this book designed to teach kids to code in python by writing games.

Web (for lack of a better generic descriptor) Programming Resources [Room 317]

Since this is a newer area for the Dojo, we need to work on curating these resources. You can help! If you have found something useful, like CodeAcademy let me know!

The CoderDojo site has resources for HTML, Node, JavaScript, Ruby, php and many more technologies. Take a look. They also have tutorials on many of these languages/frameworks as well.

Do some research. Ask some questions. Then let’s think of how we can use this new found technology to make something amazing!

Hardware [Room 317]

We currently have 4 mBot Robots. Resources for the mBot can be found at the Makeblock company website. What fun project can you think up to make with one or multiple mBots? Can you make them play soccer?

Again the CoderDojo website has resources for Arduino and Raspberry Pi projects.
We have several Arduino boards and a sensors kit with 37 different types of sensors that you can use. (You’ll have to do some research to figure much of this out. But that is half the fun!). What crazy sensing gadget can you come up with?

Dojo Maintenance [Room 317]

I have a lot of project ideas that are intended to enhance our Dojo experience. Here is the laundry list:

  • Creating a website for logging in coders and keeping track of what belt they are on and what they are working on. Maybe using face recognition as a login aid?
  • Figure out how to use the OpenBadges framework to award badges in addition to our belt system. See how they do badges on the CoderDojo web site.
  • Update/Upgrade/Overhaul the CoderDojoNova web site. Suggested improvements:
    • Registration that adds registrant to email list
    • Easier way to add new workouts
  • Finding a web hosting site that would work well for kids in the Dojo to create web content
  • Setting up git repositories for kids who are coding in text based languages