Happy Spring and Welcome Back! As a team we often ideate new ways to present technology to our student population. Our goal, as always, is to find some slice of course content that will present an engaging, exciting, and thought provoking glimpse into the computing field. The start of a new season, the culmination of weeks of planning, is always an exciting time for us. It was great to see everyone and we’re certainly happy many of our innovators shared our excitement to hack on some new course content.
Across the board we’re running eight classes this spring, covering three topic areas and igniting creative thinking for youth ages 8 through 17. Each week we will be posting similar updates on what we cover during our instructional time. Our young innovators will be learning some amazing things during the course of the seasonal program and we find these updates are a great way for parents to spark a conversation and reinforce some of these new concepts. We’ll do our best to keep the descriptions light and informative for our non-techie readers :).
Adventures – Game Makers
“Introduction to Predigame”
Our Game Makers class is using a new game engine that we’re developing in house to make the fundamentals of coding easier for a younger audience. As we often say, there are also some nuances of coding that goes above and beyond basic familiarization with a keyboard. The use of special keys, such as “()”, “#”, “:”, as well as space and tab alignment can be a big impediment to learning. Some learning approaches swap the keyboard for “drag and drop” coding blogs that can be visually assembled into code. We think there is a better way. Our Predigame platform will return focus to the keyboards using an “do more with less” approach the coding – the platform will hide many of the stumbling blocks of coding while providing a simple way to create fully functional games with minimal typing. We look forward to seeing some amazing creations out of this class!
Foundations – Python Gaming
This week we introduced some of the basic concepts for creating a Graphical User Interface (GUI) – an application much like Microsoft Word or Google Chrome that provides a graphical visualization to the user. Thus far many of the “user interfaces” that we’ve taught in class have been “command line” or text only interfaces. For GUIs, the magic starts by creating a window and then painting basic shapes within that window. In order to position shapes, the class needed to learn about screen coordinates and the coordinate plane (we often hide math in our classes). Our first project, starting with basic shapes, is the creation of custom emojis.
Foundations/Journey – Physical Computing
This week we introduced our first project – a 16 LED assembly that will be used to create moving light animations (think Great Christmas Light Fight). Our first class was primarily focused on wiring up each of the lights to the Raspberry Pi and followed with some basic coding to make sure every light was responding correctly – a precursor step for writing animations. The below picture is a sample of the project; while it certainly looks a bit crazy, these boards will look like a bowl of spaghetti in just a few more weeks 😉