Dalkey CoderDojo: Swift Programming at Fitzpatrick Castle

After all the coding sessions we ran in and around town this autumn, we decided that a one-off CoderDojo session for the Dalkey Dojo would be worth running to see if we couldn’t interest a few new mentors to join and help us run future sessions.

Setting up the iPads
Setting up the iPads

I managed to borrow 15 beautiful 12.9″ iPad Pros off the folks at Apple and we booked a two hour session at the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, where we normally hold our sessions. But instead of an Arduino focus, which is the usual subject matter at the dojo, we were going to let the kids explore Swift and Swift Playgrounds:

The ninjas will be able to explore coding with Swift to a variety of ends. They can learn the fundamentals of coding, they will be able to use code to master drawing with simple commands, they can program a robot in a variety of ways, or they can play with augmented reality and code.
As far as material went, we used some of the new challenge cards Michael O’Kane developed, like the Titanic Journey Challenge, the Traffic Lights Challenge, and his cool Roald Dahl Challenge.
Our Swift Stations
In addition to those exercises, we had the new, just released Hour of Code Swift Playground to play with, the previous one, the Rock, Paper, Scissors playground (all of which you can get yourself when you add a new Swift Playground and go to the Challenges tab). We also had a couple Sphero SPRK+s, which were a huge hit with the kids (I only have two and had to implement a queue for the kids waiting somewhat patiently for the chance to play around with them). And then we had two playgrounds of my own making, the ARKit one with Max the fox, and my new Fundamentals of Programming Swift Playground.
All in all, it was a fun, programming-packed two and and half hours, even, if, by the last fifteen minutes or so we wound up with some programming fatigue and started getting creative in… other ways:
iPads, All the Way Down
iPads, All the Way Down

European Code Week, Part Two

So in addition to the hour of code at Harold Boys’ National School in Dalkey, I also ran an hour of code event down at Loreto Primary School in Dalkey.

Loreto Primary School

This one happened after the excellent DojoCon2017 in Warrington, and was the capper on a pretty code-heavy month.

There was a ton of parental support – 10 parents! – which is always great to see, but we also covered 2nd class through 6th, a total of 10 classrooms full of students. Since we did Minecraft with them last year, I wanted to have them work on something a little different. The school is equipped with Microsoft and Samsung tablets, so I had them go back to the code.org well and we did the Anna and Elsa Hour of Code challenge for everybody except the second class (who got to do Minecraft).

Due to other commitments (like DojoCon and the other Hour of Code session in town), we didn’t do a presentation like last year, but instead I demo’d Max the fox, from my ARKit playground, and nearly got trampled each and every time as all the kids ran up to first see the fox and then stand in front of the camera so that their friends could see Max standing on top of them.

The girls were amazing, as were the parent volunteers, and I really appreciate the willingness and eagerness of all the teachers I’ve run into in these last two years to try something new out in the classroom and engage with the technology themselves, all in the name of exposing the students to new avenues of learning.

DojoCon 2017: App Development with Swift

I was very lucky to attend DojoCon 2017 over in Warrington, in the UK a few weekends ago (quite a few, now), where I ran a workshop called Intro to App Development with Swift.

DojoCon 2017

The idea was that Apple have these fantastic resources you can download and explore, either on your own or guided by a teacher (or guiding, if you’re the teacher) at their Everyone Can Code website.

The App Development books (available for free on the iBookstore) come with teacher and student guides, both of which have project ideas and implementations to download to help you through learning how to develop apps for iOS.

So they kind of work, whether you’re using the material in your classroom (or with your kids at home) or in a Dojo, where the focus is more on projects and giving the kids more loose guardrails to travel down.

    • QuestionBot — Develop a personal assistant who will answer all your questions 🤖
    •  MemeMaker — Dazzle your buddies, frighten the cat with the memes you cook up! 🕶💥💕
    • Rock, Paper, Scissors — Build your own rock, paper, scissors game to play with your friends! 👊✋✌️
    • FoodTracker — Build your own food rating app for remembering those stellar meals!

All of these projects, bar the FoodTracker, are part and parcel of the App Development with Swift curriculum, and Food Tracker can be built according to the guided tour here: https://developer.apple.com/library/content/referencelibrary/GettingStarted/DevelopiOSAppsSwift

If you want to follow along with the stuff I walked the mentors through, now you can, with this handy sushi card at CoderDojo’s Kata website.

In fact, if you want more than just Xcode development, you can bring Swift into your Dojo with Michael O’Kane’s excellent challenge cards, as well, joint announced on the CoderDojo news page just a few days ago.