Friday, 15 January 2016

Code.org Hour of Code Exercises are Awesome!

Here's a word -> Awesome.  What's awesome you ask?  The Hour of Code exercises on the code.org website are awesome I tell you!!

Prompted by an excellent teacher at my youngest daughter's school she did a few of these exercises at home before Christmas.  I helped her with a few odds and ends but by-and-large she did it all herself.

I'll give you an overview as to what it's all about and as I go along, I'll tell you why it's awesome!

What is It?
Based upon a set of well known movies, characters or toys you chose a theme to do some coding with.  Here's few examples:


Among other things, my daughter chose to do the Minecraft activities.  I think because it's based upon famous things that kids will have heard of it's more engaging than  "Hello World" or some other more abstract topic.

How Does to Work?
You step through a set of tasks associated with the theme.  First you are shown a video to give you some background (you also get videos as you go along as new concepts are introduced):


Your challenge is then presented to you:


You then get presented with a Scratch IDE that allows you to drag and drop code blocks and run the resulting code:



You drag and drop your code, press "Run" and see what happens.  If your code is correct you get a nice "well done" message.  So really short, snappy and interactive with loads of sound effects, feedback and prompts to make you want to do more.


What Coding Concepts do you Learn?
Different blocks for different actions:


Increasing the complexity of the steps:


Introducing loops, showing that you don't have to create endless code to do repeated steps:


You get a nice error message if you get something wrong.  You can then modify your code to get it right:



You get tips that your code could be more efficient and can even see the detail of the Javascript underlying your blocks:


You learn about IF statements:


You even get a certificate to print out and stick on the fridge!



Conclusion
So here you've learned about the main building blocks of writing code (sequence, selection and repetition) in a fun and engaging way.  I wrote an email to the people behind it just to say thanks and how ace I thought it was.

Two quotes from my daughter:

  • "It's really cool" 
  • "I like how it lets you use the skills you've learned"


Go do it.  Here's the link again!