Last week was Computer Science Education Week, and to celebrate, Pasadena Public Library hosted our first meeting of the Kids' Coding Club, a monthly afterschool program for kids 8-12 years old to learn about coding and computer science. This club was started by our Virtual Services Librarian, Illyanna Logan, with me and tech specialist Kevin Crain assisting her. We hold this club in our Innovation Lab, formerly the Technology Learning Center, which is being remodeled to be a space that will provide more than just computers but all kinds of STEAM tools! On December 5th, Google just happened to have a Google Doodle that was all about coding, and kids did the activity on Google's homepage as they sat down at the computers. (One kid asked us: "Did you get Google to do that doodle just for your program?" It was cute how innocently he asked it. Yes, kiddo, that's what happened: we just called up the CEO and got him to do us a favor. ;) )
After doing the Google doodle, the kids got a tutorial in coding from Code.org's Hour of Code activity based on Star Wars. It was like playing a game while also learning coding concepts step-by-step--enhanced with John Williams soundtrack and cute Star Wars characters that came alive when you correctly programmed them!
At the end of the tutorial/game, kids had the skills to create their own game. They could program droids and characters to move as fast as they wanted, and decide the parameters of earning points for touching this character or losing points for touching that one. They enjoyed this very much and the only glitch was that we learned you had to open the game in another window in order to "save" it, otherwise if you tried to go back after the certificate page, your code seemed to disappear somehow.
Kids had a blast nonetheless. They said if anything they just wished it was longer. One kid called it "the best day of my life." They took pre- and post-surveys, and in the pre-survey most kids said they knew "nothing" about coding, but in the post-survey, NO ONE felt they knew nothing or very little, and 50% of them felt they now knew "a lot"!
Our next one will be January 18th with Korbin Deary, the 13-year-old founder of a nonprofit organization called Korbin's Kode! Call 626-744-4225 for more information and to sign up.