I love teaching coding in Minecraft to young people simply because it’s such a creative environment. My workshops give children the opportunity to learn to code and then use this to automate tasks that otherwise would have taken them a long time to do!
Unfortunately, many children are missing out as Minecraft Education is only used in some schools. However, once the children have been introduced to Microsoft Code Builder – the coding platform within Minecraft – and picked up how Minecraft 3D coordinates work, it soon opens up a whole world of possibilities, exploration and play.
As I’ve said many times before, I’m a strong believer that learning through play is an important element in education – and the same is true when learning to code.
In our workshops we cover the principles of computer programming, computational thinking, collaboration and problem solving skills.
Scratch, the block programming language, continues to inspire children to learn to code. Last term we had plenty of projects where the children learned to draw, make games and created stories for their characters using code.
At the end of every term, the children get to create anything they want using concepts they have learned over the term. The variety of projects is always great.
Over the first six months of this year we partnered with North Somerset Libraries to deliver a series of ‘in person’ coding clubs and workshops for young people. The programme was over-subscribed, attracting many children from different parts of the district. This was heartening given the disruption caused by the pandemic.
Attendance didn’t drop off through the course programme so I need to give a big thank you to all the parents and carers who ferried their children to the library venues – and the young people themselves, for their enthusiasm and commitment.
Thank you to those who have shared their feedback so far.
Here’s a quick visual summary of the programme!
Make a Chatbot in Python (Feb 2022 )
A 3-hour workshop where the students created their first chatbot in Python. This workshop took place at Yatton library.
Introduction to Wearable Technology (Feb 2022)
A 3-hour workshop where the children learnt the principles of Wearable Technology and made a badge that lit up. This workshop took place in the library at The Campus in Worle.
Web Design (March 2022)
The children learnt to code in HTML and CSS and made a website about an imaginary pet. This coding club was delivered over 6 weeks at the Healthy Living Centre in Weston-super-Mare.
A 6-week coding club on how to make interactive Apps. This course took place at Nailsea Library on Saturday mornings.
Physical computing with the micro:bit (March 2022)
Coding with the micro:bit was a coding club delivered on Saturday mornings at Yatton library – again, over 6 weeks. The pedometer was a real hit!
Make a Minecraft game in Scratch (April 2022)
A 3-hour workshop where the children learnt how to make a Minecraft game in Scratch. This workshop took place at Weston library.
Paper circuits (April 2022)
A 3-hour workshop where the children learnt basic electronics concepts and made an electronic circuit for a greeting card. This workshop took place at the Healthy Living Centre in Weston-super-Mare.
Learn to code in Scratch (May 2022)
An introduction to the Scratch programming language. This course took place over 6 weeks and by the end of the course the children had created a game which they could interact with. The course took place at The Campus in Worle.
Learn to code in Python (May 2022)
Learn to code in Python was another 6 week course for late primary and secondary school students. This course was delivered at Weston library. A big clap to those teens who got up early on those Saturday mornings… and remained wide awake during the lessons 🙂
Introduction to the RaspberryPi Pico (June 2022)
Physical computing with the RaspberryPi Pico. This was a 3-hour workshop where the children learnt to code a traffic light system. This workshop was delivered at Nailsea Library.
What parent’s said about our courses:
He loved it. Thank you so much for the opportunity. It’s definitely sparked a passion.
He absolutely loved it. He created a blushing cactus. He was really proud of what he created. Thank you so much.
She really liked it and enjoyed attending the course very much. She has been using the things she has learned at home.
My son really enjoyed coding club, and learnt a lot from it. He continued to practice what he had learnt at home. Now his younger brother is keen to learn!
He really enjoyed the sessions and was keen to show us the apps he’d created. He had previously only done a little coding in Scratch so learnt a lot. He liked being creative with coding, making apps that reflected his interests and sense of humour. Thank you for these sessions.
She was keen to go each week, a sure sign of the fact she was engaged! She has an interest in coding from doing Scratch at school and was pleased to show us what she had learned.
Both of my girls really enjoyed themselves. They were proud to show me what they had made when they got home and both said they would love to do another workshop one day. Thank you!
He is happy with it. He is into coding and Phyton is one of the hard things to learn. He learned so much from these lessons.
During the last term of the academic year we offered the web design course for primary school children in KS2. Most of the children attending were in Year 5 & Year 6 and were already familiar with text based coding.
It was very challenging for the children to get started with HTML & CSS but once they understood the basic syntax, it was relatively easy for them to create their first web page. The theme of the course was to create a website about a pet or ‘virtual pet’. The course focused on teaching the children how to plan and prototype their website, then add the code to make it display on the browser and finally add the CSS to add the design elements.
We don’t use templates or existing code, so it was great to see a variety of websites that were built from scratch. They learned about image formats and file sizes, how to place the elements on a web page and create their own designs by adding CSS code.
A big well done to all the children that participated.
Back in early March I was still travelling to schools across North Somerset to deliver after school coding clubs. This is something I have been doing for several years; everything changed almost overnight.
It is right that it has been a national priority for all children and young people to return to full-time education, but unfortunately many schools are unable to safely accommodate additional learning opportunities at the end of the school day. In response, we pivoted very quickly to deliver our coding clubs virtually – and accelerated a change we had in mind to make at some stage anyway.
Technology has never played such an important role in our lives and we all are having to adapt to new hybrid ways of working and learning. The school day now looks very different to previous years – with staggered start and finish times. Moving our coding clubs online has only highlighted the importance of digital literacy and teaching children and young people critical thinking, problem solving and digital citizenship. These vital skills and learning to code are now as important as reading and writing.
Coding is for everyone – not just for boys who love playing games on their mobile devices or consoles. Of course this doesn’t mean that everyone is going to become a computer scientist. It’s more about nurturing the skills they need to understand and navigate the digital world today and tomorrow. We help children to become digital makers – rather than simply consumers of technology.
Our coding clubs are now open for registration to primary school children from Year 3 – 6 and secondary school students in Years 7 – 9. We also provide one-to-one sessions- contact us for more details.
As part of their Learning College programme I spent four hours at Yatton Infant School, teaching children in Year 1 and Year 2 to program with robots.
We used the Matatalab robot which can be made to move, sing, dance and draw by programming it with coding blocks. The children created their own instructions to guide the robot and move it around.
The children participated in a series of activities where they were introduced to algorithms. They created an algorithm for a dance routine, which they then performed to their friends.
The children programmed the robot to draw squares and triangles, which they then coloured in and assembled. Working with the robot was great for the children to better understand all about shapes and angles.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I’m looking forward to returning to Yatton Infant School with the Codingbug robot.
If you would like to see the robot in your school, please get in touch.
I was delighted to be given the opportunity to run two coding workshops for primary school children at Portishead library at the start of the Easter break.
I planned the workshops – ‘Make a Minecraft Game’ and ‘Make a Pokémon game’ in Scratch – to challenge the children. I created two levels of difficulty, which meant the more advanced coders were able to create a scrollable platform game.
I only wished we had had a bit more time to go through some more coding challenges.
Thank you to all the staff at Portishead library staff for their support. We will be back soon.
If you would like a workshop at your school in Portishead – please do get in touch.
At coding club we always allocate time for ‘show and tell’. This usually happens near the end of a session when the children have finished their projects, and are ready to show them to the rest of the class.
I always consider this an opportunity for the children to show their pride in what they have achieved. Naturally, there are children who do not wish to show their projects to everyone but are still quietly proud of their achievements. However, I always encourage children to say something about their what they made – how the end product was produced; what was the most challenging; what characters they used; and what they would like to add next.
This is also an opportunity for the rest of the class to give feedback, and get some ideas for their own projects.
With practice, the children become more comfortable at ‘show and tell’. Younger children always get inspiration from seeing the projects of older groups… and what they can do themselves.
I encourage parents to ask their children at home about their Scratch projects and praise them for their achievements.
The Summer of Code took place for five days at the end of July in partnership with the Curzon Cinema in Clevedon. The event would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsor, Costain. We organised five different workshops for young people on each of the days.
On Monday we had 6 and 7 year-olds ready to learn how to code on their tablets with ScratchJr. This group had never done any coding before – so we gave them an opportunity to learn how to make an animated story. They produced stories involving cats, wizards, ducks, fish, whales… and their very own drawings.
On Tuesday we had a room packed with children learning how to make a Minecraft game in Scratch. Even though this was a more advanced workshop and most children already had some understanding on how Scratch works, there were plenty of challenges. The children learned how to get special Minecraft sprites, how to create a list to collect survival tools, how to switch from day time to night time, how to control the main character in their Minecraft world, etc. It was good to see so many variations of the game.
Since the workshop, a few parents have told me that their children have spent considerable amounts of time on Scratch at home.
On Wednesday we introduced the children to app making using Kano Art. Although Kano is mainly used with the Kano computer, we were still able to use the desktop application. Once the Kano application was introduced to the children through a series of activities, they were able to take on the task of making their own app and the session finished with a ‘show and tell’.
Thursday was a real hit: we got out the micro:bits. We let the children set them up, create and download the code and see the results on the micro:bits. We had many ‘wow’ moments and plenty of smiles as they created guessing games, played rock-paper-scissors and drew ‘smiley’ faces. Some children even created their own Pac-man game.
On our last day we introduced the children to Python. We chose ‘Tina the Turtle’ to guide the children through a set of activities that involved Tina drawing, moving and receiving commands. There was so much to cover that we ran out of time, but I hope to build on these Python activities next time.
I’m so grateful to my colleague, James Irwin, who joined me at the Summer of Code every single day to give a helping hand when needed. He is a STEM ambassador and total star. Thank you, James.
The Curzon cinema in Clevedon continues to support us with our mission to get more young people into coding. A big thank you for the fantastic support and all the work they put into the event to make it happen.
If your child was at any of the workshops, we would love to hear whether they have continued to use any of the programs we covered at the Summer of Code. Please do send your feedback.
We plan to return next year with a third Summer of Code.