Coding Books 3

Code.org has had a tremendous impact on the global interest in computer science education, and in particular, on the development of the computer science initiatives in the NYCDOE.

Although their curriculum is no longer published in book form (download instead), up until 2018 they were shipping bound books.

Their Computer Science Fundamentals book checks in at just over 300 pages of dense text and relatively mediocre black and white illustrations (the online downloadable version is full color).

It is also filled with offline (unplugged) activities whose goal is to familiarize students with coding concepts (e.g., conditionals, repeat looks, variables) without being on the computer. There are also sections on digital citizenship.

All in all, it is a mixed bag. I like the pages that show how to do graph paper programming, which is an effective way to introduce students to algorithms

. .

I use their Graph Paper Programming in my Adapted Coding Workshops that I offer to teachers.

The content that I had less success with the students was Getting Loopy, which introduces pattern recognition and loops. The students did the worksheet, but did not seem to gain a greater understanding about loops.

pdf version

 

3Doodler Start Pens – First Try

When the students first started using the 3Doodler 3D printing pens, they had mixed success:

  • PRO: I had exactly 12 pens, so each student could use a pen.

  • CON: The pens took about an hour to charge, and had to be recharged often.

  • PRO: I had three powerful usb chargers and there was a good surge strip in the room

  • CON: The filament was old and brittle. It had not been opened during the 18 months of covid/remote learning. Subsequently, two of the pens became jammed when we tried to use the filament, and all the filament had to be tossed.
  • PRO: When I explained how, because of covid and remote learning, we had not been able to use the kit for almost two years, the company replaced the two jammed pens and the whole box of 1200 filaments for free!

  • CON: The company did not include the light green color filaments in the replacement.

  • CON: Waiting for the replacement pens and filaments pushed the project start time back by two weeks.
  • PRO: The kit provided plastic templates that had circles on them, so students could trace the circles with the pens.

  • CON: Circles are really hard to draw and the filament did not stick to the plastic, but instead kept lifting off = frustrating to the students.
  • PRO: The students “drew” on paper instead. The filament stuck much better on paper, and could be peeled off when cool.

  • CON: Students did not press the filament onto the paper, but held the pens ever-so-slightly above the paper. Because filament was above the paper, it formed strands that did not stick in place and tended to buckle.

  • CON: It took many sticks of filament to fill in even a little shape, so the students were not just making flimsy outlines.

  • PRO: The students made flags, plates of spaghetti, abstract designs, scribble scrabble, their signatures, pyramids, etc.
  • BOTTOM LINE: The students LOVED it!

3Doodler Start Pens – First Try – video

We finally charged up the 3D printing pens, made by 3Doodler. A coworker had purchased a complete 3Doodler Start set (the beginner version of the pens, that uses a unique cool filament) and then retired, so I am using them with the students.

The difference? The students loved the pens, though it was really tricky at first….

Here are videos of students (and staff) using the pens for the first time.

 

 

 

 

Coding Books 2

It bills itself as “The Complete Middle School Study Guide” and it does have a load of content.

Everything you need to ace computer science and coding in one big fat notebook is a fat book full of color drawings that covers coding concepts and computer languages.

I used it to teach Scratch. I like how it explains the coordinate plane, because not ever student knows what the numbers in the move blocks mean.

I also learned about the scratch backpack, on area on the bottom of the scratch page that you can use to save scripts to reuse with other sprites (characters) or other projects. Students must have an individual Scratch account to use the backpack feature, fyi.

The book has a unit on universal coding commands, such as loops, conditionals, and variables, that I found confusing and not helpful.

Image

Robot Race

We built the course together. The students programmed their robot mouse racers.

Robot race

Codespark Coder

This student found success in choosing the correct parameters — either up and to the right, up and to the left, or straight up — to make a character jump.

Demolition Derby

We built them by hand, and crashed them by cabinet!

Crash Derby

Code Cards to Code Code Mouse

We programmed the robot mouse to run the maze.

Team work

Bristle Bots

 

My one suggestion is to figure out a better way to attach the motor’s wires to the battery – this was the weak spot in the activity.

More photos of students and bristlebots below

Chairs, meet Floor

Excitement in the computer lab at the end of the day.

 

The intended target avoided injury. Can’t say the same thing for my arm.

Previous Older Entries

October 2022
M T W T F S S
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31