Thimble, Popcorn,Scratch, etc.

Code Club for girlsThis week, I ran a Code Club for girls; three sessions of three hours each. I’m generally very pleased with the outcome and hope that the girls can keep the momentum going and continue to develop their understanding of coding.

The group of girls consisted of my daughter’s friends from school – a group of five 10-11 year olds… and a smaller second group of 8 year olds

I decided to start them with Mozilla Thimble and show them how to create an HTML page. I thought that starting a basic project that had already been created would have been fairly straightforward, but I was mistaken. As the girls had never seen the code for an HTML page, it was better to begin from scratch. They created their first web page, which was very satisfying for them. In the process, they learnt a little bit about open data, copyright issues, collaboration and open source.

The fact that the girls wanted to come back again was very encouraging!




Scratch with RaspberryPiThe younger girls concentrated on Scratch using the RaspberryPi, which they thought it was “so cool”. They learned about inputs/outputs and got familiar with the Scratch interface.

In the second session, we used Mozilla Popcorn, and the girls got so excited that they could remix a YouTube video. This session was a little more challenging. They could create anything they wanted and they all chose music videos! It was chaos after that- but fun. Next time, I think I might get them to create their own stories and then use all the media elements available within the Popcorn interface.

The younger girls continued to play with Scratch, but they needed a lot of guidance which I found hard work. Their concentration span was considerably shorter, and they wanted to see results quickly!

In the last session, we all played with Scratch. This time, I got organised and printed out the very useful Scratch cards and scattered them around the table for the girls to choose from and to practice some of the set examples. After they all had completed a number of them, they got to create their own mini-projects, which they have shared: GhostFlying bird (…more to come).

I think the Scratch cards are a great idea. We need to create more! I think this is a good way of introducing different chunks of programming, which the children can then apply to their own ideas.

Overall, I achieved the goal I set myself at the start of the week: to get the girls interested in programming. I hope to continue to inspire more girls out there in the coming months, and learn from them, too.

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