Author Archives: Eric Stroshane

Libraries and The Hour of Code

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Guest Post by Tom Stokke, North Dakota Hour of Code Coordinator

The Hour of Code was started by Code.org in 2013 as an initiative to introduce students to coding, or computer programming. Code.org believes that “every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science.” To this end, a variety of engaging hour-long activities have been designed to introduce the concepts of computer science, in fun and engaging programming tutorials. In subsequent years, Hour of Code activities have been designed for everyone, from kindergarten through high school and beyond, to engage audiences from all levels of education and experience.

Even though the use of computers has become ubiquitous, currently there are limited opportunities for students to learn to use computers as problem solving tools. As a society we are very good at consuming content with computers, but our abilities to innovate, design, and create new problem solving tools are limited at best. By improving students’ understanding of how to use the computational abilities of computers to solve their problems, in their fields of interest, we can develop a prepared workforce better suited to meet the demands of tomorrow. Continue reading

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Starting a Coding Club at Your Library (5)

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Greetings and welcome to another installment of CodeDak, the State Library’s monthly column on running coding clubs in libraries! This episode is unflaggingly focused on one topic: lesson plans. If you’re offering a weekly, bi-weekly, or even a daily program, things will run smoother with some field-tested plans to work from. Even if you have no advance knowledge of this whole “computer science” thing, you can turn to these to guide you through. Below are links several sets of curricula and some brief explanations of what you can expect at each site. Enjoy!

Code Club: Code Club has full curricula for six different coding languages (Scratch, which may be best for beginners; HTML & CSS; Python; and three hardware-specific sets of curricula for working with Raspberry Pi, Sense HAT, and Sonic Pi). Each curriculum has six projects, which introduce concepts and complexity as they progress. For Scratch, HTML & CSS, and Python, there are multiple sets of 6 project arcs—six for scratch and two each for the others. As an added boon, these are all available in 28 different languages, which can be a great help when working with new Americans: https://codeclubprojects.org/en-GB/

Code.org: You may already be familiar with Code.org through the Hour of Code, but they also have comprehensive lesson plans presented alongside supplementary materials for teaching coding concepts to any grade level, from K-12. Have pre-readers? No problem. Advanced kids? Code.org has you covered. Simply start out by selecting Elementary, Middle, or High School under “Full course catalog” and you’ll be guided along to everything you need. If that’s a bit overwhelming and you’d like to take a more stripped down approach, simply go the “Express” route,” which comes in two flavors: Pre-reader and CS Fundamentals: https://studio.code.org/courses?view=teacher Continue reading

Starting a Coding Club at Your Library (4)

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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/

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Starting a Coding Club at Your Library (3)

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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…)

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Starting a Coding Club at Your Library (2)

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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 Continue reading

Starting a Coding Club at Your Library (1)

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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

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Library Grants – August 2017

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Photo by Larry used under CC BY SA 3.0

Doosan Discovery Grant

Application deadline: September 18, 2017

Doosan Bobcat is offering grants of $500 to accredited middle schools to support STEM Education in communities where it has operating plants or offices (re: Bismarck, Gwinner, Wahpeton, and West Fargo). Projects dealing with science, technology, engineering, or math will be considered. Projects msut be completed during the 2017-2018 academic year. Educators for grades 5-8 are encouraged to apply. Full details and application are available at: http://www.ndstem.org/2017-18-doosan-discovery-grants-available-to-grade-5-8-teachers/

Regional STEM Days for Students

Application deadline: December 29, 2017

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Library Grants – April 2017

Dollar signFirst Book

Application deadline: Ongoing

First Book is a nonprofit providing free and discounted books and educational resources to schools and programs serving children from low-income families. Registration is required to ensure only qualifying organizations participate. Sign up at: http://www.fbmarketplace.org/register

Mazda Foundation

Application deadline: July 1

The Mazda Foundation awards grants to programs promoting education and literacy, environmental conservation, cross-cultural understanding, social welfare, and scientific research. Organizations are required to have a 501(c)(3) designation. Find out more and apply here: http://www.mazdafoundation.org/grant-guidelines/

North Dakota Humanities Council Quick Grants

Application deadline: Ongoing

NDHC Quick Grants ($1,500 or less) support direct program costs of humanities projects that bring historical, cultural, or ethical perspectives to bear on issues of interest in our communities. They support events that engage participants in thinking critically, promote better understanding of ourselves and others, are conducted in a spirit of open and informed inquiry, provide multiple viewpoints, and which involve partnerships between community organizations, cultural institutions, and scholars in the humanities. Read their guidelines and apply at: http://www.ndhumanities.org/quick-grants.html

Kinder Morgan Foundation

Application deadline: 10th of each month

The Kinder Morgan Foundation’s mission is to provide today’s youth with opportunities to learn and grow. Their goal is to help today’s science, math, and music students become the engineers, educators, and musicians who will support diverse communities for many years to come. They fund programs that promote the academic and artistic interests of young people in the cities and towns where Kindred Morgan operates. Grants range between $1,000 and $5,000. Eligibility requirements and application forms are accessible on their site: http://www.kindermorgan.com/pages/community/km_foundation_guidelines.aspx

Grants for Libraries

MC900433808[1]Literacy Grants for Libraries (Better World Books)

Application deadline: March 31

 Projects should address the literacy needs of under-served populations in their community. Literacy needs are defined by broadly identifying, understanding, interpreting, creating, communicating, and computing information to live a more fulfilling and productive life. Libraries may pitch one project each, with a maximum award of $15,000 per project. Projects that will have a measurable and long-term impact on an under-served population and will continue to operate after grant funds have been utilized will be looked upon favorably. Additional information and application forms are available on their site.

 Master of Library and Information Science Degree Grant (NDSL)

Application deadline: May 31

The North Dakota State Library provides a training grant encouraging North Dakotans to pursue a Master of Library and Information Science degree from an ALA-accredited school (ALA/MLIS) and to work in North Dakota. Applicants must be employed by a North Dakota public school library, a public library, a public academic library, or the State Library. Applicants must be accepted into an ALA/MLIS program prior to the award. Applications may be submitted for a total amount of up to $8,500. To learn more or apply, head to the State Library’s PDF about this grant.

Great River Energy

Application deadline: March 15, June 15, September 15, and December 15

Great River Energy contributes to organizations in the communities they serve and the communities where their employees live. Awards of $500 to $2500 are given to nonprofit organizations focusing on community service, education, environment, and youth. Contributions in North Dakota are targeted to requesting organizations in Oliver, McLean and Mercer counties. To apply or find further information, visit their Community Contributions site.

Ottertail Power Company

Application deadlines: March 15, June 15, September 15, December 15

Otter Tail Power Company provides financial support for general operating and program expenses to qualifying organizations and activities in the communities they serve. Previous recipients in North Dakota include Lake Region Public Library, Minnewaukan Public Library, and Forman Public Library, and many ND public schools. To determine if you qualify or to apply for a grant, visit their Donations and Grants page.

EBSCO Solar

Application deadline: April 28

EBSCO Solar is a grant program that will fund two $100,000 solar installations at libraries around the world. Solar power is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available. EBSCO believes they can make a critical impact on improving the environment and wants to help libraries make the transition to green power. FAQ’s and the application form are available on EBSCO’s solar site.

 

 

NDLCC Standards Compliance Resource Links

Whether or not you attended one of our recent Summer Summit meetings, I wanted to ensure these resources were readily available and in one convenient location. If you need further assistance, don’t hesitate to contact your friendly Library Development Specialist here at the North Dakota State Library!