2017 July - Code Camps

Coding Camps using Code.org's App Lab and the BBC's Micro:bit

July 2017

This past week I finished the 7th coding camp and workshop this summer. I started out with a 1 day Code.org K-5 workshop for elementary teachers. I volunteered and held three "Code Camps" for students that were 2 half day long code camps. I had 3 workshops to introduce teachers to coding also using App Lab and Micro:bits.

Student Coding Camps

Students were able to attend camps in Springville, Salem, and Delta, Utah. In the camps students were introduced to Code.org's App Lab (code.org/applab) which can be used to create and publish apps that run on any smartphone, tablet, or computer as HTML apps. Students were introduced to the coding structures of sequence, loops, conditionals, events, and functions and created an app that implemented the structure. On the second day students were introduced to the BBC's Micro:bit and how they could program it to using Microsoft's MakeCode (makecode.com) block style Micro:bit programming. Students created a variety of programs and downloaded them to the Micro:bit. Student's were able to implement coding concepts learned the previous day to program the Micro:bits. Hopefully when students can learn to program hardware like the Micro:bit it will lead to get the students thinking about all kinds of innovation.

Sample Student Apps & Projects

  • "Hello World with Smiley Face" by Mikaila. Sequence structure with HTML embedded in the write() statement and a "smiley face" drawn with code on the Canvas.
  • "2 Number Calculator" by Maria. The calculator app let the person enter 2 numbers and then multiple the numbers when the Calculate button triggers an event to do a basic calculation and display the answer.
  • "Chalkboard Assignment" by Eli. The program uses the loop structure to write a message multiple times on the "chalkboard".
  • "Magic 8 Ball" by Camden. This app uses an if...then...else structure to give the answer to a "yes" or "no" question that is ask of the Magic 8 Ball app.
  • "Doily" by Brock. This app uses Turtle Graphics and a function structure to create a cool "doily" design.
  • "Poke a Duck" by Cameron. The app uses game design and several structures to create an app to see how many times you can poke the "duck" in 10 seconds.
  • "Hello World" by Brookelyn. This Micro:bit app displays "Hello World" with the press of the "A" button. The "B" button displays her name. "On Shake" will display a design on the LEDs. A forever loop displays a smiley face.
  • "Dice Roller" by Brianna. This Micro:bit program displays a number between 1-6 when the Micro:bit is shaken.
  • "Star Wars Music" by Skyler. This Micro:bit code plays a Star Wars song when the "A" button is clicked.

Student Comments

  • "I learned about coding and that was a good learning experience. I liked making apps. I liked the Microbits and yeah." Kate
  • "I made a microbit and it was really cool because you can program it to do a lot of awesome stuff like make it play music and write stuff. Yay." Joe
  • "I learned so much about coding that I didn't know and it was fun to play around with it to!!" Mikaila
  • "I have learned a lot in this Class! I really want to play around more with the AppLab it is a very fun Website! I look forward to it! :)" Brock

Parent Comments

  • "Thank you so much for this great camp! My son really enjoyed it and feels like he has gotten some good, and new, experience with coding. He has done coding camps before and codes online a lot (Khan academy, code.org, etc), and feels this camp was valuable on top of what he already knew, so I consider that a success! I also really appreciate as a parent being able to see the projects and that he could share his apps with me as he was creating them!" Thank you, again! Amy
  • "Gavin enjoyed your class very much. He had a great experience! Thanks!​" Christine
  • "Isaac really enjoyed the coding camp and wished that it had been longer. He really enjoyed the websites you used and found your instruction to be easy to understand. He would have liked to get to know the other kids in the class better." Thank you-- Rebecca

Teacher Workshops

The teacher workshops went for 2 full days. In the workshops teachers created apps using Code.org's App Lab and the BBC's Micro:bit much the same as the students did in their Code Camps but more time was spent on strategies to help teachers teach coding and develop apps. Teachers created more involved apps like the "Four Function Calculators", "Linear Function Calculator", and "Cube" function in their workshops. Most teachers also had the time to develop a coding project of their own using either App Lab or Micro:bits.

Sample Teacher Apps and Projects

  • "Calculator +-*/" by Karen. This is a four function calculator that allows the input of 2 numbers and then will let a person +, -, *, or / the numbers.
  • "Summation" by Moani. This asks for a number and then uses a loop to add all the numbers between 0 and the number to get the sum total.
  • "Linear Function Calculator" by T Harris. This app uses the basic equation for a linear function (y = m * x + b) to calculate a value for "y" at a point "x" when the "slope" and "b" is known.
  • "Cube Function" by Matt. This app creates a "cube" function that asks for the input of a number and then returns the cube of the number. The app then applies the cube function to calculate the volume of a sphere and display the answer.
  • "Spinner Lock" by J Brunner. This Micro:bit program has one Micro:bit talking to another Micro:bit through Bluetooth communication. When a wire is removed from the Fidget-Spinner on the first Micro:bit it sends a warning to the second Micro:bit that it has been "stolen".

Teacher Comments

  • "Coming from a previous elementary teacher who knew NOTHING about coding or much else about computers, I feel very accomplished after this class. I had a great time learning how coding works and getting ideas about how they could be used in middle school/high school classes. While I am not teaching, I am excited to share some of what I've learned with older nieces and nephews. Thanks for the great class!" Leah
  • "Thank you for a wonderful experience. I had never used the code.org app lab or microbits. I now feel confident using and teaching both. It was also worthwhile to see the teaching methods that you used and you instructed us. Sharing experiences and questions with the other teachers was great. How can I use this? For my College and Career Awareness class, I will use a very basic app lab (Hello World and maybe some art design) instead of the MIT program that I have been using. This will build upon the other code.org lessons that I have the students do. For my Exploring CS class, I plan to use several of the app projects and microbit projects that we did. I feel that this will make the lessons more exciting and applicable for the students." Thanks again. Bo
  • "What a great class! I know I emailed you before the class wavering if I should even come. I had watched the links you sent and didn't understand anything. You are so calm, knowledgeable, and patient. What I gained from the class is "I can" create an app and "I can" write code. "I can" use a microbit. I knew what coding was and apps were when I signed up for the class but I didn't know anything else. It was fun to be in class with others who are so excited and passionate about these things. It was great to have that kind of energy in class. This was a great class and so happy I didn't drop out of it. I still don't get it all but feel successful for I did do and could create." Thanks so much! Dankeschön. Melinda
  • I always enjoy your classes. Coding has been a scary proposition, but seeing the block systems make it easier to learn and less intimidating. It's nice to see how they fit together. I plan on putting an "rpm" app together. I'm sure students will use it in class to help set speeds for the mill and lathe." Thanks again. Kirk
  • Thanks so much! I have enjoyed the past 2 days. I have never done much with block coding. I was impressed with how user friendly it seems. I think it is a great way to introduce students to the world of coding. I can have my kids program several different formulas as we progress through the curriculum. They will be so angry with me after playing with these formulas and seeing the ease that coding brings to the table." Thanks again! Matt