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
At the 2017 Summer Summits, Library Development staff presented on coding and coding clubs; and robots, too! Several robots were featured in our coding themed presentation (the slides can be viewed here); but we were only able to demonstrate one of the robots (the Sphero). But never fear, YouTube is here!
Through the power of YouTube, you can see all of these robots in action and learn more about them in the process. Enjoy!
Dash and Dot
Lego WeDo 2.0
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
Attention North Dakota libraries! The State Library now has a drone! The DJI Phantom 3: Drone Kit is available in KitKeeper. The kit includes a drone and an iPad for shooting and editing digital video. The kit only circulates to public and school libraries in North Dakota, and it be checked out up to 8 weeks. To reserve the drone kit or to learn more about it, visit KitKeeper at: http://www.eventkeeper.com/kitkeeper/index.cfm?curOrg=nodak
At the Spring Workshops the State Library hosted in April, Elizabeth Larson-Steckler from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) presented a session on STEAM/STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) education. She covered ways to integrate literacy into library STEAM programming by using books as a jumping off point for exploration.
DPI defines STEAM education as an integrated and blended curriculum that is driven by creative thinking, problem solving, discovery, and student-centered development of ideas and solutions. Often kids question why they have to learn certain skills because they see no relevance to their lives. STEAM programming helps students make those real life connections. Continue reading
Posted in Programming
Tagged kids, STEM
Last week I covered some resources you could use to find science ideas for your story times. If you are looking for support for STEM programming ideas for your school-age kids, check out these helpful resources. They were both specifically developed for educators who with kids outside of school, so they are perfect for a library environment.
howtosmile is “a collection of the best educational materials on the web, in addition to learning tools and services – all designed especially for those who teach school-aged kids in non-classroom settings.” This site allows you to “search over 3,500 of the very best science and math activities on the web. All activities are available to anyone, free of charge.” For added convenience, you can also “filter by age, material costs, and learning time to find exactly what you need.” There are also curated topic pages if you are looking for themed programs.
Click2Science is “an interactive, professional development site for trainers, coaches, site directors and frontline staff/volunteers working in out-of-school time STEM programs, serving children and youth.” In addition to professional development resources, there are learning modules addressing Planning STEM Learning Experiences, Interacting with Youth during STEM, and Building STEM Skills in Youth. You can register for a free account to connect and interact with others in the online community. Check out the article “20 Skills that Make STEM Click” for a great overview before getting started.
Do you have any excellent sources of STEM activities you rely on for programming? Share your suggestions in the comments!
Posted in Programming
Tagged kids, STEM
STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) topics for library programming are very popular, but often they focus on school aged children. If you are looking for ways to incorporate science concepts in your programming for younger children, check out the Science in Storytime blog for ideas and themed concepts.
Promoted as “A place to share cool science ideas for storytime!,” Science in Storytime is an effort of the Lincoln City Libraries in Lincoln, Nebraska, to “help to set the “science interest” stage for formal education.” Blog posts feature book suggestions and related science activity ideas appropriate for preschoolers. If you don’t have a particular concept in mind, you can use the categories to browse. If you do have a particular topic in mind, you can use the tags or search box to find specific ideas for your program.
The Lincoln City Libraries developed a logo that they use to indicate when they will be discussing a science concept in story time. The blog also links to Great Science Websites for Kids, which is sponsored by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of ALA. It is a great starting point for even more resources and ideas.
How do you incorporate STEM concepts into story time? Share your ideas in the comments!