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CoderDojo Toronto – June 23rd, 2019

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This months theme is Indigenous Peoples day. The Indigenous peoples of Canada were the original inhabitants of Canada before European settlers came. There are many indigenous groups (or tribes) and all have very vibrant and distinct cultures and languages. The indigenous peoples of Canada are often referred to general as First Nations. You may also here other terms such as Inuit (which are those tribes that live in the icier arctic regions of Canada) or Métis. However there are many tribes of Indigenous peoples, some of which you may also see as part of indigenous groups in the United States as well. We will take a look at some of the indigenous languages so you can hear what they sound like, and then there will be a short demonstration of how to use the translate extension in Scratch to translate displayed text and the Text to speech extension to hear what was translated.

Programming languages work a little bit differently to human languages. Often there is a word to describe exactly an idea in a human language or sometimes we just make a new one if we need to. But in computer languages (like JavaScript and Python), this is a lot harder to do as the ‘words’ in computer programming languages are less easily changed. So to try and make it easier for people to develop programs that need these complex ideas, people develop libraries and frameworks in order to do a lot of the basic work to so that you don’t have to.

This can be really helpful because often this is where you make errors if you aren’t doing this type of programming all the time. When many people use a library or framework, then any problems in that library can get detected quicker. JavaScript can be used to build large web applications, and to make it easier many UI libraries and frameworks have been developed. A lot of these are developed by the large internet companies like Facebook and Google, among others. In this months workshop we will be looking at ReactJS (or just React) which was initially created at Facebook. React is a library to build the user interfaces of web applications using HTML & CSS. If your HTML and CSS are feeling a bit rusty, take a look at the workshop in April.

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 React for JavaScript.

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

React for JavaScript

This workshop will be run by CoderDojo TO Chapter Champion Tyler. Participants will be building a Metronome web application using React. React is a library for building web applications that was developed at Facebook. Although this is a fairly simple program with a slider bar, button and an output, it shows the basics of setting up inputs and outputs and building parts of your web applications (often called components) using React. Once the basics are built, everybody will be encouraged to be as creative as possible and tweak their applications 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 – May 26th, 2019: Wrap-up

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This past CoderDojo drop in lab was a great day for all involved. The theme this month was ” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”> Water a plant day. The topic of the workshop was building a moisture sensor hooked up to an arduino. Everybody had a great time and we got the circuits built and some of the code done. Unfortunately, due to some transit issues, the workshop started a bit late, so we didn’t get time to get through everything.

Workshop

The workshop involved putting together the circuitry using a breadboard, which is a good first step to working with electronics as it allows you to rewire the circuit to make sure it is working as required. Typically, you would also have to do all of the logic to read the sensor, and then do the alerting as well. However, as we are using an Arduino, it means that this can all be done via programming. For this workshop we continued on with some of the intermediate Python since we have been working with that in recent workshops. The downside to this, is that you must have the computer connected to the Arduino to keep everything working. Unfortunately we didn’t get past the basic Python to get everything working, but all the source code is available. There was a bit of an issue when the Mac’s trying to read from the sensor which is still being looked into.

Since this workshop relies on a custom activities, there will be a full write up posted to the blog soon. It will go into a bit more detail with the Python that was to be covered, how to find what port is called that your Arduino is connected to on your computer. Hopefully the issue with the Mac’s will be resolved, and the steps to fix that will also be there. There will also be a version of the code in Arduino C, so that you can run your logic without the computer. For now though, if you want to access the material, you can get it at this link.

Closing Notes

There were some really great projects worked on in the April session. We look forward to seeing everybody next month. Be sure to look out for the Python and Arduino articles to dig deeper.

CoderDojo Toronto – April 14th, 2019: Wrap-up

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This past CoderDojo drop in lab was a great day for all involved.  The theme this month was Earth Day, and many of the Learners where doing awesome things with projects to do with the Earth Day theme. The topic of this lab’s workshop was HTML & CSS. HTML & CSS are the fundamental building blocks of the Web. Knowing how to use them helps you to create web pages, and also later (with JavaScript) to build web applications.

Showcase

There were a lot of learners who wanted to showcase their work at this lab. On showcase were Python, HTML/CSS pages and Scratch projects that learners worked on.

The Python project used Python Turtle which allowed for drawing shapes. This project had the turtle draw a geometric patterns on the screen, using some of the turtle functions.

The first HTML project on Showcase was a HTML page one Facts about birds and arctic animals.

The second HTML Project on Showcase is a website on the prevention of animal extinction, discussing the environmental issues that impact animals.

The first scratch project Speedy Cat Colour. This was a colaboration between 2 learners which allows you to paint the screen with a very colourful cat.

The next project was Run. Run is a game that you have to run away from a ball that is chasing you. You need to dodge it for as long as you can.

The next project was Jumping Monkey. It is a game where you launch a monkey from a launcher and you have to try to get all the bananas.

The next project was Don’t Touch Purple. This is a game where you have to move a bat around the obstacles on the screen to the yellow exit without touching the purple obstacles on the screen.

The next project was Bunny Jump. It is a game where you control a jumping rabbit.

The final scratch project was Force Battle. A game where you are a cat fighting a ghost.

Closing Notes

There were some really great projects worked on in the April session. We look forward to seeing everybody next month. Be sure to look out for our HTML&CSS resources article if you want to dig deeper into Web pages.

 

 

 

Beginner Python Next Steps

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So you took the CoderDojo Workshop on Python and want to know where to go next?

Well lets start with what did you learn in the workshop. You learnt a little about Python syntax (the code you have to write to make things happen in your project), as well as variables and setting their value. You also learned about a useful mathematical tool called modulo, which allows you to calculate the remainder in a division. For example 5 can be grouped (divided) into 2 groups of 2 with 1 leftover. This is usually called the remainder. It’s not in all programming languages but for those that it is in, it is usually written as a ‘%‘, ‘mod‘, or ‘rem‘. In Python it is ‘%‘. So the example above is 5 % 2 = 1.

And also repetition using different types of loops, like while and for.

And using lists to keep track of many items in one bundle.

This gives you a great foundation for doing things in Python, but there is a lot more to go.

What’s Next

There are two very important parts of Python that we haven’t tackled yet. Conditional statements which allow you to control if something gets done, and functions which allow you to build code you can reuse multiple times in your project.

Conditional statements

Sometimes in your code, you want to only run a certain part of the code when something special is happening. To do this, you ask a question: “Is something happening?”. This question is referred to the condition, and if this is true, then you run the code, if it is not (false) then you don’t. In most languages, this is referred to an if (or sometimes if/then) statement. Often though, you need to run certain code when your condition is true, and other code when it is not. In this case, you have the else. This will run the code, if the condition is false. In many languages, you test to see if numbers are equal using ==.

if x == 5:
print ("x is 5")
else:
print ("x is not 5")

Sometimes you need to have an even more complex flow, and in those cases you need to use many if and else statements chained together. For example you may want to do one thing if your something is an apple, something else if it is a banana, and a third thing if it is not either of them. N In Python, there is a special way of doing this to make writing them easier, using the elif.

if x == "Apple":
print("x is an apple")
elif x == "Banana":
print("x is a banana")
else:
print("x is not an apple and x is not a banana")

Conditional Statements are very useful in your programming. If you started with Scratch, you may well be familiar with them. To practice using conditional statements, try out the following projects.

Functions

When you have some code that you want to use multiple times, you probably have just written it multiple times (or maybe your a bit of a wizard, and are copying and pasting). Everything works great, right! At first it works great, but after a while you have a very very big project that is really hard to keep track of whats happening. This is can be a big problem when something goes wrong. It can also be a real pain when you want to change what that bit of code does. You have to change it in many places. If you miss one you can get weird things happening in your project. Enter Functions.

Functions are a way of putting that bit of code aside so that you can use it in the rest of your project without having to write it out every time. The way they work is a bit like the code that runs in a loop. Take our loop code in the image above. You didn’t have to write out turtle.forward(1) and turtle.right(1) hundreds of times, you only had to write it out once. But instead of having to do it many times at once like in a loop, with a function you can run the code at whatever place you need.

The description above doesn’t actually say everything a function can do. So lets describe it.

It runs code
The code can contain variables, loops, values. Anything that you can put into your main project, you can put into a function.
It can use parameters
Parameters are variables you can use in your function’s code (if you need to) so that your code can run slightly differently each time. For example. Maybe you want to add 3 values together, 3,5, and 7. But the next time you want to add 4,6, and 8. You could make 2 functions. In Python, you create your functions using the def keyword.

def add357
print(3 + 5 + 7)
def add468
print(4 + 6 + 8)

add357
add468

A better way is to use parameters. Parameters help you allow you to write one version of your code that can do both of the calculations. In this example we have three called number1, number2, and number3.

def add(number1, number2, number3)
print number1 + number2 + number3

add(3,5,7)
add(4,6,8)

This makes it so you can use the code in many more places.
It returns a value
These values are things you can send out of your function and use them in the rest of your code. Maybe you don’t just want to those values together, maybe you need to do a multiplication afterwards. Returning a value allows you to do this. You can put them into other variables, or just use them in your code.

def add(number1, number2, number3)
return number1 + number2 + number3

x = add(3,5,7) * add(4,6,8)
print(x)

In other programming languages, functions can go by different names. Sometimes these names mean that the function acts differently to what we described above. Some common names you might see are Subroutine, Method, Lamdba, Delegate.

The next step is to try out functions using the following projects:

  1. Making Snowflakes using existing Functions.
  2. Making Modern Art with your own Functions.

CoderDojo Toronto – March 17th, 2019: Wrap-up

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This past CoderDojo drop in lab was a great day for all involved.  The theme this month was International Women’s Day, and many of the Learners where doing awesome things with projects they worked on previously during our special International Women’s Day Learn to Code event, as well as many working on brand new projects. The topic of this lab’s workshop was Python. Python is a very useful and straightforward language to learn. It has an English like syntax, so it is very approachable even for beginners. For learners it is a great next step from Scratch to writing code.

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

Showcase

There were a lot of learners who wanted to showcase their work at this lab. On showcase was Python, Twine, and Scratch. To showcase what the learners were doing in the Python workshop, Chapter Champion Tyler presented a quick overview of the material that learners worked through. Then on display was one of the projects that was created using Python

The Python project used Python Turtle which allowed for drawing shapes. This project had the drew geometric patterns on the screen, slowly change colors.

The first scratch project Fight Griffin. It is a game where you have to fight a griffin and dodge an asteroid. You use the space bar to use a skill to attack the griffin.

The next project was Driving Game remix. A remix is when you take someone’s project and make a new scratch project using their work as a starting point. This remix was of the driving game to make have multiple cars driving around the course.

The next project was Ghost, Bat and Cake game. It is a game with a Ghost, Bat, and a cake.

The next project was Rosa Parks Story. This project was further work done on the story done on March 10th. It is a story about Rosa Parks. It also made use of one several extension that is available in Scratch 3.0 which made the characters also speak their dialog as well as display it.

The next project was Kill the Dragon. It is a game with a wizard and you fight the dragon with lightning bolts and baseballs. It uses a loop to always move a cross hair sprite to follow the mouse, so you can see where you are about to attack.

The final scratch project was Awesome Translate. It made use of another the really cool extensions in Scratch 3.0. The extension that was used took text you created and translated it into different languages.


The final showcase project was a Twine project. Twine allows you to create choose-your-own-adventure type stories using a combination of text, pictures, and programming. The story had a great story with lots of pictures and many paths you could follow. There were many branches in the story.

Closing Notes

There were some really great projects worked on in the March session. We look forward to seeing everybody next month. Be sure to look out for our Python resources article if you want to dig deeper into Python.

 

 

 

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

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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

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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 – September 19, 2018

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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

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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/

2017 Announcements

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Announcements for 2017

CoderDojoTo will not be holding our regular monthly event in January.

We are working on a number of exciting initiatives and will be sending another e-mail soon with announcements! Stay tuned for important updates about upcoming CoderDojoTo community events, skill building materials, and volunteering opportunities.

Thank you for learning code with us.

CoderDojoTo had a great year in 2016. We ran 15 community events, allowing us to teach 350+ coders new computer skills. Dozens of mentors, volunteers, and community members lent their support to make this past year a huge success. We truly couldn’t have done it without your dedication, donations, and support! Thank you to everyone who came to learn and share coding skills this year.

We would like to extend a special thank you to our venue sponsor, Bitmaker, for providing crucial space and internet for our monthly workshops, and to all the companies who’s generous support made free computing education possible – including Full Stack Toronto, Infinite I.T. Staffing, Microsoft Yorkdale, Toronto Public Library, STEMCA, and Sticky Brain Studios. Thank you!

 

 

 

2016 Highlights:

We had the pleasure of running a variety of new workshops and curriculum content this past year.