This summer we implemented the App Authors curriculum at the Douglass Branch Library once again, and the program was a huge success. Lizzy led the program using our Semi-Sequential pathway, which we’ve found is best for the public library setting, and each week we covered one coding concept. Participants learned about algorithms, loops, conditionals, functions, variables, and debugging through “unplugged” lessons, Code.org coding lessons, and app creation. This year we made one change to our curriculum, and devoted one whole lesson to the design process of an app in App Lab.
This added App Lab session went really well; participants with limited or no prior experience with coding were able to plan, prototype, and code an app all within the span of the three-hour session. In fact, one participant happened to be visiting from Tennessee, so this was the only session he attended. He expressed some concern that he wouldn’t be able to create an app because he hadn’t done so well in his computer class at school, and he had never worked with Code.org before. But by the end of the session, he had managed to design and code a “myth busting” app about Rubik’s cubes, and was so proud of his accomplishments.
A few parents regularly attended sessions with their children, which turned out to be really helpful for the younger kids, and also gave the parents a chance to see what their kids were working on. One dad helped his son figure out algorithms by standing up and actually acting them out. He would use the carpet squares as a grid and say things like, “Okay, we need to move forward one step, and then turn in which direction?” It was really cool that a younger participant was able to fully engage in the program with the help of his father, and you could see the moment the algorithm finally made sense to him when his father acted it out.
We held our Showcase on the seventh week of the program, and invited the participants to bring their family and friends to see what had been created during the program. One regular participant brought in his mom and three siblings. We had enough laptops that he was able to set up each sibling with their own laptop, and each was able to play a different game that he had created during the program, kind of like an arcade. His siblings loved the games he had made, and he was really proud to show off all his hard work.
We’re looking forward to continuing our program again next year!