Editor's Note: The following material was submitted by the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School in response to our inquiry about what their students were doing for the Hour of Code project in December. We look forward to showcasing more schools' activities with Hour of Code.
CCLCS Executive Director Paul Niles prefaced the submission with a statement "This was written by our 6th grade Technology teacher Josh Stewart, who teaches a course we call "Explorations" 4x/week."
Mr. Stewart's Coding Project
Students in the grade six Explorations class at CCLCS will use 'The Hour of Code' as a jumping off point for 5-6 weeks of coding work. We spend the first day or two using the official HoC web activities to introduce coding (more of a reacquaintance now...most kids have been exposed to the basics due to HoC participation in earlier grades) and become familiar with the 'drag and drop' coding blocks. From there we will move to iPads using "Hopscotch" and Apple's "Swift Playgrounds" to tackle some coding challenges and design original, tablet-based games. The kids have come up with some great ones over the years, and the best part of it all is the collaborative problem solving that takes place as 20 kids are working through coding bugs and glitches together. A whole lot of "Imagine, create/code, test, improve"...some great iterative design going on, where failure ("My character won't appear?! Why is the ball rolling the wrong way when I tilt my iPad?!") is seen as more of an opportunity than a roadblock. After a couple weeks on the iPads we move to the laptops and explore the Scratch programming platform. Although it still allows for 'drag and drop' coding blocks, Scratch allows for a more realistic coding experience by introducing variables and a higher level of customization. After creating a quick "About Me" website, all of the kids will code a digital presentation that users to learn about and interact with creatures they have created during a science unit on evolution and adaptation. Some kids will use MaKey MaKey circuit boards to wire their 3D animal models to control their onscreen presentations, allowing people to learn all about these new animals by touching the life-sized models. Kinda cool!
Ultimately our coding work is all about active problem solving, creative expression, collaborative learning, and iterative design...skills that will serve these kids well in the future. The fluid thinking, de-bugging, and enhancing of their code is awesome to watch...and they all have a blast playing/exploring/interacting with their finished projects.
As a follow up to the unit, the school offers an 8-week coding seminar that allows a small group of students to dive deeper into the world of code, working to learn a specific coding language, deepen their understanding of good code design, and build more complex MaKey MaKey computer control devices.