I have been leading coding sessions for young people for over four years. During this time I have seen children develop their computational thinking and coding skills. The children have also been exposed to hardware like the micro:bit, RaspberryPi and the Pico-board.
Lately, I have also been delivering workshops in e-Textiles at Yatton Primary School where children have learnt about basic electronics and making wearable projects.
To further continue to inspire more young people into ‘digital making’, I have launched a crowdfunding campaign to create a ‘mobile maker space’. I hope to raise the funds to purchase the hardware needed to deliver more workshops inside and outside school.
Pac-man, the arcade game created in the 80’s was our chosen project for term 6. The children created their own versions of the game by drawing their own images. It was one of the longest projects we have ever done at coding club and to my surprise, the children never showed any signs of boredom with the game. Every week, they came to coding club looking forward to add to their projects.
The Pac-man game gave the children the opportunity to practice everything they had learned throughout the year by adding more layers of complexity to the game. Some of the children chose to create their sprites in Pixil art, a program that they learned how to use at coding club.
It gave me great pleasure to see the results and I know for sure the children thoroughly enjoyed it too. Here is a small selection of the projects created.
One of the schools I work closely with had their Learning College program in late Spring. I had the opportunity to work with twelve children, who learnt the principles of electronic circuits, sewing and working collaboratively to produce an electronic bug and an interactive bookmark. It was great to see a 50:50 gender split in this workshop, which I hope to repeat again. If your school is interested, please get in touch.
The electronic bugs were made of felt and a sewn in with conductive thread that completed an electronic circuit. A switch button turned on the eyes (LEDs). In the process, the children learnt about electricity, sewing and how electronic circuits work.
We also used felt material for these bookmarks. The children sewed in a circuit with a push button behind the ‘nose’ that when pressed, lit up the cat’s eyes.
Year 5’s and Year 6’s learned to make a chatbot with the Python programming language. The chatbot consisted of a ‘bot’ assistant that interacts with you by asking questions and giving answers based on the responses given. This is a challenging task that children can modify according to their interest. Here are some examples of chatbots talking about dinosaurs, food and scary elevators!
We use Trinket, our favourite Python online editor.
The Bitsbox interface consists of a phone simulator and a text editor, so the results can be seen straight away. A QR code can also be scanned so the apps can run on a phone or tablet. This is a great way to introduce text-based programming to young people.
This term the children have been using the Scratch Programming environment to create fireworks displays, learn about gravity, make their own Pokemon games and to create maths quizzes. Here is just a small sample of some of their creations.
We ran a well-attended session on the micro:bit – the electronic device developed by the BBC with the aim to introduce more children to coding. We had a packed room… but only a few girls.
The girls who attended the session were particularly keen on the micro:bits. They loved giving it instructions and seeing the displayed results. I enjoyed seeing them actively participating, playing each others’ games and showing me their creations.
It became clear to me that the micro:bits are great for introducing girls to coding. They can see how code interacts with the physical world and as their coding skills develop, they can start making their ideas happen.
I believe that introducing girls to coding from a young age is so important. Digital literacy is not just for boys and parents need to realise that micro:bits, computer games, Minecraft, etc are part of every child’s digital world. Parents should not make gender assumptions when it comes to computers and electronic devices. The earlier the girls are exposed to technology, the more they will be interested in STEM subjects later on.
So here it is a big plea to parents: give your daughter a micro:bit and let her tinker away.
Look out for any coding activities in your area where your daughter can participate.