I was all ready to post an article about the class I’m running at the Mounttown Community Facility in Dún Laoghaire, but it SOLD OUT IN TWO HOURS. Drop us a note if you want to get notified when the next class is scheduled.
The Launch of Learn to Code in Ireland
The inaugural Learn to Code class starts on April 3rd and runs for five Tuesdays (until the 1st of May). It’s from 6pm-8pm in the evening at the Mounttown Community Facility and is for kids ages 8-12.
We start with offline activities to teach the kids language and logic they need to use to talk to computers. We’ll dissect a few devices (a Raspberry Pi, an Apple Watch) to see what makes them tick, what makes them the same, in some ways, under the hood.
After that basic introduction, we jump into coding on iPads, which are provided. We program in Swift, which is the same language app developers can use to make iPhone and iPad apps. We’ll use a thing called turtle graphics. I’ve brought a version of this tool to the iPad. The ideas behind turtle graphics came out of some interesting work Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon did, which they wrote about in a book called Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas. It lets kids relate geometric concepts to real life movement and coding at the same time. It’s done in a way that lets them quickly build and explore on their own.
We progress onto more complex computer programming concepts and go into stuff like programming robots (I have two of these very cool robots from Sphero called SPRK+). We explore augmented reality, where they can drop a 3D fox into a real life environment. And then we check out some really cool programming with material from a colleague of mine that plots the voyage of the Titanic, famous battles in Ireland, and an augmented reality challenge that uses characters from Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach.
The playgrounds are based on some of the exercises in Learn to Code 3, so if you have an iPad with Swift Playgrounds it’s worth downloading that playground… and whether you do or don’t have it, there are free teacher guides for all the learn to code playgrounds that are excellent.
I credit a lot of my success as a computer software engineer to a program called Project Expand, run in Massachusetts in the 80s. We were exposed to a lot of things we’d call STEM or STEAM today (for Science, Technology, Arts, and Math), including the LOGO and BASIC computer programming languages.
With LOGO you drove a little triangle around the screen with a relatively small number of commands. It made programming accessible, geometry tangible. Continue reading “80s Kids Started Coding Earlier than Millenials?”