In this installment of CodeDak, we’re going to look at some robots, books, and games you can incorporate in your library’s coding club to help make computer programming more approachable, concrete, and fun. Even if you’re not running a coding club (though you should be!), everything mentioned here could still be used in a variety of engaging educational programs at your library. As a side note, the State Library intends to develop circulating kits around many of the interactive ‘bots below, though these aren’t anticipated to be in circulation until early 2018. We’ll provide more details as plans gel!
Robots and games, no computer required:
Circuit Maze: A single player game that teaches logic and sequential reasoning in an electrical engineering framework. Play pieces on the game board within the constraints of a challenge card, complete the circuit, and light things up: http://www.thinkfun.com/products/circuit-maze/
Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set: Tap instructions into the back of a plastic robot mouse to steer it through a maze you build yourself. Appropriate for even very tiny people. Good times! https://smile.amazon.com/Learning-Resources-Robot-Activity-Pieces/dp/B01A5YMCH4/
We’ve been easing you into the idea of running a coding club at your library and participating in this year’s Hour of Code. If this is your first time checking in, you may wish to refer to the previous entries in this series.
What at minimum do you need to get started?
Time. You will want to hold regularly scheduled meetings of your club (or clubs!) and each meeting should be at least an hour long. During the summer and afterschool are optimal times, but weekends can work well, too.
Computers. Desktops or laptops; tablets will work handsomely for block coding (which is likely what you’ll start out with), but if you’re going to be working with older teens or eventually catering to more advanced coders, keyboards will become important.
Curriculum. The core curriculum we’re recommending is CS First. It’s completely free and targeted at ages 9-14. You can schedule it flexibly and it’s based around block coding, which makes it accessible and easy to accommodate. Plus it ties in really well with educational robots (coming soon from a State Library near you…)
In the first installment, we introduced you to CodeDak, the State Library’s initiative to encourage and support running coding clubs in libraries throughout the state. We looked at the exigent need to provide safe, fun, and free opportunities for our youth to learn coding and computer science. Now we’re going to define some terms and detail the bare bones of what you need to get started. This guide is far from comprehensive, but fear not—there’s more to come in future issues of the Flickertale!
Coding: Also called programming, computer programming, or scripting, this is the practice of creating sets of machine-interpretable instructions that make a computer do your bidding. This is an incredibly powerful skillset, as computers are in almost everything, including phones, drones, refrigerators, and rubber duckies. The applications of coding range from creating games and apps, automating routine processes like sorting, making robots dance, performing complex math, modeling weather patterns, even creating art and music—anything a coder can dream of.
Block Coding: A visual style of coding where instructions are represented as Continue reading
The Library Development Department of the North Dakota State Library has begun a new initiative focused on coding in libraries. It’s our goal to see libraries throughout the state participate in this year’s Hour of Code. More than that, we want to work with you to start a coding club in your library. Please, please, please don’t be frightened or rage quit your job. You’ve totally got this and we’ll be with you every step of the way. Before we get into the weeds, I wanted to provide a few reasons behind why we’re doing this:
- Currently there are more than 500,000 computing jobs open nationwide (572 in North Dakota)
- Last year, less than 43,000 computer science students graduated into the workforce (117 in North Dakota)
- Computer science drives job growth and innovation throughout our economy and computing occupations are the number one source of all new wages in the U.S.
- North Dakota has no K-12 computer science curriculum standards nor are North Dakota high schools required to offer computer science courses (though to their great credit, many do)
- Learn more at: https://code.org/promote