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.
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