CoderDojo Toronto – March 10th, 2019: Wrap-up

By | Uncategorized

In celebration of International Women’s day, CoderDojo held a Learn to Code event on March 10th, 2019. It was a great success with 14 learners attending. The theme for International Women’s Day was Balance for Better to create a gender-balanced world. If the attendance of the event is any indication, we have a good foundation for that in the next generation of coders.

This event wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the mentors as well as Bitmaker General Assembly, who provide us with a place to run our CoderDojo events.

During the event

Learners working on Scratch projects

This event was a Learn to Code event, which had 3 workshops. A getting started with Scratch workshop, a Twine workshop and an intro to HTML/CSS workshop. Scratch and Twine were held in the main room, and Twine was held in the workshop room. There were many students being introduced to programming through Scratch and some learning the basics of how to build a web page in HTML/CSS. Several people joined in the Twine workshop

Scratch is a great intro to programming tool as games, interactive animations, and stories can be constructed easily with scripts being ‘snap-together’. International Women’s Day themed resources were available to help learners build stories and animations. Several learners made use of these, while others constructed their own fantastic Scratch projects.

Learners working on Twine projects

Twine is great for interactive ‘Choose-your-own-adventure’ style stories. Your story can have multiple paths, but also have a more programmatic flavor to really make the storied tailored to not only the readers choices of the story path. The learners taking the Twine workshop learned the basics of creating Twine stories, and started to create their stories.

Showcase

At the end of the session several of the learners presented their work in the showcase. The first project is called Find the dot-game. The player has to find and click on the orange ball on the screen with increasing numbers of other colored balls moving on the screen at the same time. Each time the player clicks on the orange ball, they finish the level, which increases the difficulty level by putting more moving balls on the screen.

Learner explaining their project

The second project presented during the showcase was a project in Scratch, which is an animation about Rosa Parks, who was an activist during the civil rights movement in the USA. The Scratch project is a story with 4 scenes, showing the major scenes in her story. The story has a narrator who tells the major points of the story, as well as dialogue that details some of the events Rosa was a part of.

Learners talking about their Rosa Parks Scratch project

Lots of fun and learning was done by everybody. If you couldn’t make this event, this month CoderDojo is also running a Kids Drop-in Coding workshop on the 17th. There will be another event in April. Stay tuned for details.

CoderDojo Toronto – March 17th, 2019

By | Uncategorized

T-800 Terminator from the Terminator movies. It probably wasn’t programmed in Python

While you are busy celebrating International Womens Day with us tomorrow at Bitmaker, don’t forget to start thinking about what you are going to do at our regular Coderdojo Kids Coding Club event that is being held on March 17th, 2019. We didn’t put all the excitement into our IWD Learn to Code event. This month, in addition to the regular drop-in lab, we are exploring the Python language in our workshop.

Python is a fantastic language to learn. It is very easy to write and has English like syntax. It can be used to build many different types of programs, from web servers to games. Right now it is a very popular language used by Data Scientists and other types of Data Analysts. They use it to process their data to help them understand and solve complex problems.

Python has been around for a long time so there is a large list of libraries you can use to help create your project. These can be fairly simple things like Tweepy, which helps you connect to Twitter and get tweets. Or really complex things like OpenCV (Open Computer Vision) which you can use to build vision for your robot, or anti squirrel bird feeder defenses (the full, very technical, “how it was done” presentation is here). This is just a taste of some of the things you can do with Python. But don’t worry, we are starting with the basics, so you won’t be building a Terminator just yet.

Register

The event is free and being held at Bitmaker at 220 King Street West on the 2nd Floor, starting from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm. To attend, please register at Eventbrite.

What is happening?

This event will have a Drop-in Lab, and the workshop will focus on learning Python.

Drop-in Lab

Bring your own ideas, or use our project guides that are available for all skill levels. Everybody works at their own pace with help from the Mentors. Available activities for our drop-in sessions are:

  • Scratch – creating interactive stories or games (beginner, ages 6-10, minimal typing)
  • Web Development – make your own website or application (intermediate, ages 10+, typing skills required)
  • Arduino – learn hardware program with this easy-to-program circuit board (intermediate, ages 10+, typing skills required)
  • Something else? – tell us what you’d like to learn! Let one of the mentors know what you have in mind, and they will assist you with finding resources

Python

An image of Python Turtle with a script and visual design

Python Turtle with a script

The Python workshop will be run by CoderDojo TO Chapter Champion, Tyler, to learn Python using Trinket and Turtley, which allows you to create Python in a web browser (usually you need to have to install lots of stuff). This makes it very easy to play around and get comfortable with Python. The workshop will use Python Turtle, which is a Python version of the old (1967) educational language Logo. Logo uses a ‘Turtle’ which you can move around the screen and draw lines and shapes. Python Turtle programs can be very complex and you can make interesting artwork programatically.

Everybody will be encouraged to be as creative as possible with their designs and shapes. There will also be plenty of examples that you can work from to make something that looks really amazing!

Things to Remember

  • Kids coding drop-in lab, ages 8 – 17 only
  • Bring Your Own Laptop or Android Device
  • All skill levels welcome
  • Bring your own ideas or use our kid-friendly resources
  • Adult accompaniment required at all times
  • Bring a snack, but remember that we are a Peanut-Free environment
  • Have Fun!

If you have any questions, please email toronto@coderdojo.ca

CoderDojo Toronto – March 10th, 2019: International Women’s Day

By | Monthly Event

The countdown is on! In 7 days we will be having a special CoderDojo Toronto Learn to Code event on March 10th in celebration of International Women’s Day 2019. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Balance for Better” to work towards building a better gender balance in the world. This is a special CoderDojo Toronto event in March that is running in addition to the regular CoderDojo Toronto events that normally run on the 3rd Sunday of the month.

Hedy Lamarr in Come Live With Me trailer

Hedy Lamarr

Women have made significant contributions to technology which often go uncelebrated. Ada Lovelace, generally considered to be the first computer programmer during the 1840’s when the very first mechanical computers were being conceived. Or Hedy Lamarr, an Austrian/American movie star and inventor who developed frequency hopping radio transmissions, a technology still used today. More recent contributions by people like Dr. Lisa Su, an electrical engineer known for her work on Semi-conductor design, the building blocks of CPUs, who is the CEO and President of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) a large CPU, Graphics and Semiconductor company.

These are just a few more well know contributions from individual women. There were many women who contributed just as much without anywhere near the recognition. For instance the women who made up the majority of the codebreakers at Bletchley Park trying to crack the Enigma code during WWII. Or the women who made up the human computers and programmers at NASA during the space race.
This special CoderDojo TO event will focus on the contributions of women to technology through creating a game, story, or webpage about a woman who inspires you.

Register

The event is free and being held at Bitmaker at 220 King Street West on the 2nd Floor, starting from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm. To attend, please register at Eventbrite.

What is happening?

At this event there are 3 technologies that will be focused on to build games and stories. Scratch, Twine, and HTML/CSS.

Scratch

Who uses ScratchIn the main area, we will be working on Scratch to build a story or game with material about a woman that inspires you.

There will be lots of ideas on what you can make and resources to get started. Mentors will be in the room to help out. Scratch is a great tool to get your feet wet in coding as it allows you to very easily create interactive stories games, and animations with all the code built with drag and drop blocks.

Scratch is web based, so all the Scratch projects you make will be available from anywhere to work on them or share them. Scratch is a great to get even for adults to get a basic understanding of programming. For more information on Scratch go to http://scratch.mit.edu

Twine

Twine LogoThere will be a special workshop run by CoderDojo TO mentor, Karen, doing storytelling with two main topics: women in STEM and women role models. Twine will be used to create interactive storytelling games. Twine is a great start to any coder’s journey into programming, as it teaches event-based logic and conditionals. Typing is required, but don’t worry, as we will pair learners up with mentors to help facilitate typing and idea generation for the stories.

Everybody will be encouraged to be as creative as possible in building their stories, whether they’re about a woman super hero, women they respect and admire, or about themselves make record-breaking achievements in the future! Guardians are welcome to participate as well.

For more information about Twine, please visit: http://twinery.org/

HTML/CSS

A second workshop will be run by CoderDojo TO Chapter Champion, Les, building a website around the theme of International Women’s day. HTML and CSS is a great place to start if you want to build anything web related. HTML and CSS form the basis of anything you want to display in a web browser. HTML provides the content, and CSS provides the styling. Once you have HTML and CSS under your belt, you can later move onto to building something interactive on your web page using JavaScript.

There are many ways you can go about building a web page, but a great resource to use is Mozilla Thimble. Which allows you to build and publish your webpage.

Things to Remember

  • Kids coding drop-in lab, ages 8 – 17 only
  • Bring Your Own Laptop or Android Device
  • All skill levels welcome
  • Bring your own ideas or use our kid-friendly resources
  • Adult accompaniment required at all times
  • Bring a snack, but remember that we are a Peanut-Free environment
  • Have Fun!

If you have any questions, please email toronto@coderdojo.ca

See you there and don’t forget to wear something purple!

CoderDojo Toronto – September 19, 2018

By | Uncategorized

It was really awesome to celebrate 5 years of CoderDojo Toronto with all you dedicated learners, brand new faces and passionate mentors. You’re the best!

I was wowed by all the of the continued support. It was really good to connect with with members the global CodeDojo community, special thanks to Yasmin of CoderDojo Florence for stopping by.

This Project Showcase was really fun. Keep scrolling to see some interesting games and awesome Scratch techniques!

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Project Showcase:

Game: “Catch the Fish” Creator: Jem

Game: “PUBG” Creator: Kadir

Game: “Levels” Creator: Ryan

Game: “Ping Pong” Creator: Felix

Game: “Scratch Game” Creator: Marta

CoderDojo Toronto honours the legacy of a young coder

By | Uncategorized

CoderDojo as an organization has touched many people’s lives through the gift of code. By providing a safe space for young people from different communities to meet mentors, access learning resources, and meet peers who share their interests and skills – our organization has been an entry point into tech for many young people who have traveled from within our city, and from towns across Ontario, to build their knowledge of computing.

It is with great care that we accept a donation to CoderDojo Toronto in honour of a young man, Noam, who recently passed away.  Friends of Noam chose CoderDojo because he was passionate about coding and social justice, and would have appreciated helping young folks gain access to free coding workshops. Though he was a private and very humble individual, his mother and his partner thought that Noam would be comfortable in sharing a link to his website, so that people can view his writings, thoughts, art work, coding, and his journey with cancer.

https://noamswebsite.com/

CoderDojo Toronto – March 18th

By | Monthly Event, Project Showcase, Scratch, Showcase

It was an awesome month at the dojo this March with some exciting new faces and excellent returning learners. We covered a lot of ground with Scratch projects this month including using backdrops to add new levels to your game, using variables for making timers and switching sprite costumes for cool and colourful effects.

See event photos on Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/p/BZbcaJilCx8/?taken-by=coderdojoto

Project Showcase:

Game: “Donut Game” Creator: Adam

Game: “Capture the Cake (Part 2)” Creator: Brooke

Game: “Apple Dash” Creator: Debargha

Game: “Room Escape” Creator: Alex

Game: “Scratch Animation” Creator: Jayden

Game: “Speed Run Part 1” Creator: Kieran

Game: “The Acronik Leviathan” Creator: Jack

CoderDojo Toronto – January 21, 2018

By | Monthly Event, Project Showcase, Scratch

A big thank you to all of the learners and mentors who made it out to the event this month. We were very excited to get back into programming in 2018 with some new CSS resources for styling web pages.

Quote of the day, “You can save your Scratch projects and edit them later” -Adam

See event photos on Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/p/BZbcaJilCx8/?taken-by=coderdojoto

Project Showcase:

Game: “Bomb” Creator: Adam

Game: “Finster” Creator: Fin

Game: “The Thinker” Creator: David

Game: “Capture the Cake” Creator: Brooke

CoderDojo Toronto – September 24th

By | Scratch

Hello @here, thank you to those who came, and those who were in touch about missing it. Today went smoothly, well attended and staffed by volunteers. We had stability in hardware with 6 laptops with support from Mozilla Hive and Free Geek Toronto, and had a take away HTML5 cheat sheet.

In other news one of our regular learners attended this session as a volunteer. He helped a first time student learn the ropes with Scratch. @jordanne has ideas about creating handouts to describe the important elements of Scratch, and also, has ideas about Scratch and uses it in fun ways to tell stories. Learn about her cat.

Quote of the day, in response to what did you learn today? ‘That X mean left and right, and Y means up and down’ – Adam

Lastly, a long overdue appreciation and social event for mentors is scheduled on Thursday, October 26th. Find the details on Meetup. https://www.meetup.com/CoderDojoTo/events/243559614/

See event photos on Instagram:

Scratch Showcase links:

https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/176126306/

https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/176221748/

https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/172925178/

https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/176126306/

https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/176216067/

Canada Coding Week event: Canadarm2

By | blog, classes
Thank you for volunteering your time for code education.
Our event is on Saturday, June 3rd 217 from 2 – 4pm and we are holding a mentor/volunteer training session beforehand at 1:30 – to ensure that mentors are somewhat prepared for the 2 hour coding session to follow.
Lesson of the day – CANADARM2:
In this activity, students will imagine that they are Chris Hadfield remotely controlling the Canadarm 2 from on board the International Space Station. Students will use computational thinking processes (breaking down a problem, looking for patterns, developing algorithms) and their prior coding experience with Scratch to create a simulation in which they become the controller of Canadarm2 to put a new module on the International Space Station.
Video lesson here:

Printable teachers guide:
Starter Scratch:
Final Scratch:
 
Lesson plan found here:

Session Debrief Minutes: May 14th

By | blog, Volunteers

After each session, we hold a quick (<10min) mentor debrief to see what wins were made that day, introduce any new ideas to work on, and examine what didn’t work.

BIG WINS:
The greatest take away from this session was not a coding win, but a breakthrough with a smarter than average student. This young coder had been to 3 sessions, and brought his C++ coding manual to work through. His heart was already committed to the language, but he was having a struggle advancing quickly. His friends, family, and teachers were not equipped to teach him the language – and likewise – he was having little luck finding his coding community, unable to convince his friends to take on the task of hard-core coding. That few mentors were able to help in meaningful ways was getting the team down – how do we support this coder before he loses interest? The solution was in asking what they wanted to do. The answer was surprising. This young person felt they were letting people down by not having a project that was showing progress. We unpacked, over cake, how important it is to find your coding peers, as they will help push you along in projects – but we also unpacked that C++ is daunting for many programmers – and that even though Scratch might seem like a step backward, that learning to use the programming functions there can help communicate progress to others much more quickly. From beginning to end, we can make a game that people can play in an hour. After a big sigh about what it meant to take that step to a more junior programming language we went back to the computer and got programming. Looking forward to big things from this keen and altruistic learner who wants to learn code to improve his life, and to share it with friends and loved ones.

Other notes from mentors to keep improving our events and program:

BEFORE THE EVENT:
☐ Have a formalized “setup” and “teardown” list to ensure we don’t miss anything when setting up
☐ Update the table layouts guide with the correct layouts
☐ Add question about coding interest area to Eventbrite registration
☐ Print out attendee info from Eventbrite
☐ Convert Scratch activities to Python

DURING THE EVENT:
☐ Have “Activity of the Day” table fully set up and demoing before learners arrive
☐ Have lessons folders set out on the pods before learners arrive

 

By: M. Leslie Bent