Here are two exciting new and upcoming that libraries can incorporate into STEM and STEAM programs and into Makerspaces. The first is called littleBits. littleBits are magnetically connectable color-coded electronic modules. They teach children how to connect circuits and build machines but require no soldering, wiring, or programming.
There are a number of kits available for sale or you can buy modules individually. littleBits has an educational site that includes lesson plans, design challenges, tons of great ideas. Brilliantly, their hardware is open source and everything on their site is Creative Commons licensed, so it’s all free to use and modify. They’ve got a growing community of contributors uploading new lessons, projects, and build videos as well. Continue reading
The Hour of Code is a campaign from Code.org to recruit 10 million kids to try computer science for one hour during Computer Science Education Week (December 9-15). Industry leaders like Microsoft, Google, Apple, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg; organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs of America; celebrities, athletes, and politicians like will.i.am, Chris Bosh, Enrique Iglesias, and Bill Clinton; and scores of others have joined the campaign.
Computer science is foundational for all students today, yet the overwhelming majority of schools don’t teach it. This is a chance to inspire under-served students to achieve the 21st Century American Dream. Continue reading
Hosting a Coding Club at your library or in your computer lab is a great way to get teens into your building and foster their knowledge and interest in STEM fields. They also provide an opportunity for you to partner with schools and tech companies in your community. Previously, we’ve discussed how to start a Coding Club using Codecademy. Today I wanted to inform you of some other resources you can make use of.
CoderDojo has some great guidance and resources on how to start a more formalized coding club with designated coding mentors. The Bismarck Veterans Memorial Library recently started a CoderDojo (the only one so far in our state)–kudos to them!
Kodu facilitates the creation of games for the PC (free) and XBox ($5 through the Indie Games channel) using a simple visual programming language. In addition to programming skills, it cultivates creativity, problem solving, and storytelling. They have an education kit you can download to help you get started. The platform is geared towards a younger audience, but can provide an excellent introduction to programming for middle school-aged youths and even pre-teens.
CodeEd is dedicated to teaching computer science to girls from under-served communities, starting in middle school. They partner with schools and programs serving low-income girls and provide them with volunteer teachers, computer science course offerings, and computers. CodeEd does make their curriculum available under a Creative Commons Attribution license, so you can make use of it even if you don’t enter into a more formal partnership with them.
Bootstrap is a formal curriculum for students age 12-16. It teaches solid program design skills and applies algebra and geometry to video game design. The flexible course runs 20-25 hours. While Bootstrap is best suited for a school or school library media center, it has plenty to offer anyone interested in fostering a learning environment for computer programming. The curriculum is free and aligned with Common Core standards for algebra. All course materials, including unit guides, workbooks, password-protected teacher materials, and the standards matrix are available free of charge.
Code Club World is another great resource for guidance on how to start your club, promote it, and keep it running smoothly. In addition, they provide teaching materials in an assortment of languages (here’s the English one). Their focus is on clubs for children aged 9-11, but their recommendations are pretty universally applicable.
Know of any other great coding club resources? Please share them in the comments!
Coding is an increasingly important skill for students to acquire, and if they don’t have the opportunity to learn it in school, hosting a club at the library is an ideal partnership! As librarians, we know digital literacy is essential. The Codecademy site emphasizes that “digital literacy is now a fundamental skill like reading and writing.”
In the introduction to the kit, Douglas Rushkoff, author of Program or Be Programmed, points out that “Kids spend an increasing portion of their lives interacting with and through screens…Introducing kids to code reveals to them how computers are really ‘anything’ machines, capable of doing pretty much anything we program into them. It gives them the ability both to read and to write in the foundational languages of the digital age and, in doing so, fundamentally transforms their perspective from that of user to maker, consumer to creative.”
to download your free kit and make plans to get started! Have you implemented programs like this at your library? Share your ideas and experiences in the comments!