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Novice Coders: Overview [Room 320]

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. If you’ve started to feel more comfortable and want to see what everyone else is doing, read down below and see if that appeals to you. The “Everybody Else” group has been working on projects for several weeks.

Today we are going to continue working through Unit 3 in the Creative Computing resource. This is a unit about telling stories! Last time we met we worked on some Scratch coding techniques that we could use to enable aspects of storytelling. Namely, Characters, Conversations and Scenes. If you were not here last meeting or you did not get through all of these projects, keep working on them. You will learn some valuable skills.

If you have finished the Characters, Conversations and Scenes projects, find a partner and think of a fun short story to tell. Look at the Pass It On project to see where we are going. Depending on how many partner pairs we have, we will either just write a single story or follow the suggestion of the Pass It On project and switch off storytelling. Use the skills you have been learning to enhance your story in Scratch. I also have a set of “Sushi Cards” which show other fun tips and techniques. Have a look and see what you can use. Good luck and have fun!

Follow the suggestions on the project sheets. But don’t just stop once you’ve done the bare minimum. Work through the Things to Try or Feeling Stuck follow on ideas. Be creative. Explore. Look around at what your neighbors are doing. Ask questions. Have fun!

And don’t forget to share in the Spring studio.

Everybody Else

This season the focus will be on earning your next belt. If you don’t have a white belt yet take a look at the White Belt Requirements. If you know how to do all of the challenges in the requirements, you are ready to take the White Belt Test. If you want to practice the test, you can by practicing with the actual testing tool found here.

Already have your White Belt? Your Yellow Belt? Good Work. Now it is time to earn your next one! We are following (for the most part) the belt ranks of the International Taekwon Do Federation. The belt order is White, Yellow, Green, Blue, Red, Black. In addition to your project to earn higher than White belts, you will need to mentor other Dojo coders and you will also need to demonstrate a higher level of skill in the programming language or system that you developed your project in. So if you are working in Scratch, we’ll ask you some tougher Scratch challenges. Working in a different language? We’ll ask you some challenges geared for that language (we might have to learn it first though!).

This session if you are still searching for 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 319]

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 319]

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 this 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 319]

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 319]

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