Starting a Coding Club at Your Library (2)

CodeDak logo

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.

Programming Language: Just as people use a wide variety of languages to communicate with each other, there are many different languages for communicating with computers. Common ones taught in coding clubs include: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, Scratch, and Ruby on Rails.

Block Coding: A visual style of coding where instructions are represented as geometric shapes that can be snapped together on screen. This style of coding is much easier to learn, as you can clearly see the elements of a given computer program and you don’t have to worry about typing something wrong, messing up the syntax, or forgetting a closing parenthesis.

Debugging: As with all human endeavors, mistakes are made in code. This often leads to unexpected and undesirable buggy behavior when the code is executed. Debugging is the process of systematically examining a piece of code to find out where it all went wrong and fix it.

Hour of Code: Every December, during Computer Science Education Week (2017’s is from December 3rd-9th), people around the world are invited to spend an hour writing code snippets to perform designated tasks. These challenges are devised by various tech companies and make coding super approachable by incorporating things like Minecraft and beloved Pixar and Star Wars characters. Schools and libraries host them, providing the infrastructure, facilitating collaboration, and building community around code.

Digital Divide: The digital divide doesn’t just refer to the schism between those who do and do not have access to the internet, but to the difference in quality of access, bandwidth, and skills. Libraries are perfectly positioned to bridge that divide by providing access to computers; high speed internet; and the opportunity, encouragement, and framework in which to develop computer and coding skills. We can make a profound difference in children’s lives. We have the technology.

What are your next steps?

  1. Watch a recorded webinar explaining more about coding clubs
  2. Register to attend the State Library’s 2017 Summer Summit
  3. Hug a robot
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