As we are ramping up for ACOE’s Math and Technology Team’s first Hour of Code hosted in our very own Meaning Maker Studio, I wanted to share the resources we are using in case you can’t make it.
Ages: 5-9 (and up)
HOC Website: lightbot.com/hoc.html
What is it? You are responsible for telling a little robot what they need to do in order to blink a light on top of all the blue squares. As with most engaging games, the challenges start of simple so you can learn about the game and then increase in rigor. What starts out as a coding game for five year olds quickly escalates into an interesting challenge, even for adults.
How is this coding? Coding, according to thefreedictionary.com is “a system of symbols and rules used to represent instructions to a computer; a computer program.” Which is exactly what you are doing to help the lightbots meet their objectives.
Can I use this after the hour of code? Yes, but the app costs 2.99 for iOS and Android.
Ages: 9-12 (and up)
HOC Website: scratch.mit.edu/hoc
What is it? Scratch is a block based language that has a simple, but powerful interface. Besides being easy to use, they have great resources for people teaching themselves and teachers looking to use this in their classes. The Scratch online teacher community has a plethora of resources, lessons, and active participants who can answer your questions quickly and intelligently.
Can I use this after the hour of code? Yes! Scratch is free and has both a browser based version that work on most modern laptops (including Chromebooks) and an offline version that work better on older computers (including really old ones that can only run Puppy Linux) or places with spotty internet.
Ages: 8-14 (and up)
What is it? Activities were created to get students thinking about computer science even if their school couldn’t afford computers (or their teacher could never book time in the lab, the lab was always down, etc) or the students had access, but felt reticent to sit down at a computer and hammer out some code.
How is this coding? The two activities are a Magic Trick and Binary Cards. For the Magic Trick, students turn one card upside down in an array of two sided cards. Using a parity bit at the end of each row and column, the magician can tell the student exactly which card was turned over. This is a form of error detecting commonly used when transmitting data. Another common method of error detecting similar to this that most people have heard of are check sums. The activity helps them understand the idea using physical cards so they understand it in a different way than if they had learned it on the computer. The binary cards are dots representing the first few powers of two. Students represent base ten numbers using the cards (ie 12 would be an 8 dot card plus a 4 dot card) then translate that into a binary number (ie 12=01100). Binary numbers are how computers transmit and store information, this activity help students understand that binary is just a different way to represent numbers (and letters).
Raspberry Pi + Scratch = Scratch IRL
Ages: 12-18 (and up)
What is it? Raspberry Pi is a small, inexpensive computer that was designed to help students learn to code. Scratch is described above. With the Raspberry Pi, students can integrate objects in the real world (etc buttons, LEDs, etc) into their Scratch projects. This helps bring the abstract world of coding into the real physical world and opens up exciting possibilities like playing a buzzer noise when someone opens your door or blinking a light when you get a high score on a game. If you don’t have a Raspberry Pi, but still want to play with Scratch IRL, there are several options that work with regular computers such as Lego WeDo, Picoboards, and Makey Makey.
Can I use this after the hour of code? Yes! Scratch is free and has both a browser based version that work on most modern laptops (including Chromebooks) and an offline version that work better on older computers (including really old ones that can only run Puppy Linux) or places with spotty internet. Also, Raspberry Pi’s are available for $40 and the new Pi Zero is only $5.