Brandon, Queen's Square | May 1, 2019
Coding is the “must have” literacy skill of the 21st century. But gone are the days of learning PASCAL on a two-colour CRT monitor, like I did (once upon a time). Today, learning to code is colourful and fun. And thanks to improved interfaces it can be learned a lot younger.
This past Winter, Idea Exchange debuted our Code Masters program at the Queen’s Square and Clemens Mill locations. School aged participants warm-up with games to sharpen their algebra skills (without them even knowing it!), learn to send commands from iPads to a playful assortment of robots, navigate mazes, and more!
Coding is simply learning that something stands in for something else. Then we learn that certain somethings, written in a certain order, make up different instructions for a computer. But what does this look like in the program room?
A picture made of familiar tangrams is projected alongside a legend assigning certain shapes numerical values (this stands in for that). Participants race to be the first to say how much each tangram picture is “worth.”
With Code-a-pillar participants literally attach different segments of the robot to tell him where to go to navigate a path. Bee-bots offer a next step. Participants tap instructions onto Bee-bot’s back before pressing “go” and sending her through a maze styled after the LEGO and Pac-Man worlds.
Navigating a Sphero is easy to learn. Once participants have conquered the Hex Maze, they’re ready to move onto Sphero Square Dancing. Spheros can be programed to dance around differently sized squares all by themselves by changing just three variables (speed, time, and direction). Finally, participants can teach Dash robots to move and even talk!
We look forward to offering Code Masters again and developing the program further. For other resources on coding for kids, catalogue subject search computer programming – juvenile literature or browse the 005 section of your children’s nonfiction collection.