Moving on from an #HourOfCode to 20 hours of code…

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Hour of Code events that are running as part of Computer Science Education Week and, last Thursday, I took my 10 year-old son to our local Apple Store to take part in an event. Unfortunately his younger brother wasn’t interested (“I don’t really like programming” was the response) but I’m not going to push it – not everyone likes the same things and I do at least know he’ll be exposed to some coding at school (Scratch was part of the ICT curriculum at their school, even before the recent shake-up in computer science education here in the UK).

Using a Scratch-like user interface, the Hour of Code used a sequence of puzzles to guide Angry Birds through a route to find some pigs, the Zombies and Plants, and Squirrels and Acorns… with the opportunity to view the resulting JavaScript code at each stage.  Working up from simple steps forward/turns to repeat [for] loops, repeat until [while] loops, if statements and if/else statements it was great to see my son asking “what are all the funny brackets” when he viewed the code (and equally great to be able to use some of the C he’s tweaked with the Arduino as an example of passing parameters).

At the end of the session we were pointed at another twenty hours of code available at the code.org studio, allowing kids (and adults) to build up confidence and knowledge of basic computer science principles but the real buzz for me was seeing my son’s browsing history the next morning, spotting the Google search for “20 hours of code” and the fact he’d got stuck in to some of the puzzles to create his own game without any nudging from his geek father. That put a big smile on my face.

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