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Coding during Lockdown part the first

Well. You begin to understand why “May you live in interesting times” is a curse! We’re living right now through something that will be taught in school history classes in years or decades to come, assuming the human race survives and the Martians don’t seize the opportunity they’ve been waiting for. Perhaps this virus is the Martians testing out a weapon they know they’re immune to. Perhaps I’ve been listening to War of the Worlds a little too much.

Anyway. For those who don’t know, my day job is as an ICT teacher. We, the geeks, are now in the forefront. We’ve been saying you can do all this stuff remotely for a long time and now, finally, we get to prove it.

This is going to be part 1 in a series, don’t know how many parts there will be, it will depend on how long this goes on, where I’ll point to some resources on the internet that will let you continue to learn how to program a computer whether you’re in Key Stage 2, 3, 4, or 5 here in the UK.

Key Stage 2-3 – Hour of Code

A huge range of coding challenges here. Some are harder than others, some are obviously Scratch with the serial numbers filed off and a hasty paint job slapped on – Star Wars, Minecraft, etc. I’m looking at you here. My favourites on Hour of Code are LightBot, Code Combat, and the HTML stuff on there from Khan Academy. The first two are nice, fun activities that teach some really complicated coding concepts in a great step-by-step way, the third is a fantastic introduction to HTML, the language used to build web pages. What better way to spend your lockdown than creating your own in-house website?

Key Stage 2-3 – Scratch

You can’t possibly have escaped Primary School without encountering Scratch. If you can think of a game, you can make it. Mind you, the same can be said for Little Big Planet on the PS4, Kodu on the X-Box, and a few other platforms. You assemble code like Lego blocks, gradually building up more and more complex games as you go. What I love about Scratch is how instant it is. A couple of clicks and you’re moving a character around a screen, chasing something that’s trying to run away from it.

Key Stage 4-5 – Codecademy

Now this is where things get real. Codecademy has online courses for an absolute ton of programming languages and associated concepts. It will keep you occupied for days. Weeks! And what better time to learn a new language than now when you’re stuck inside with only the internet to keep you company.

Bonus challenge. Flexbox Zombies (and other games to learn new stuff)

Every now and then They (the capital T is important) introduce new features into a language you’ve been writing for years and you need to learn it fast. In HTML, They introduced the FlexBox. And then they created Flexbox Zombies to teach you how the whole thing works while killing zombies at the same time. Or training a frog to reach it’s lily pad, or getting aliens to abduct cows for whatever it is aliens abduct cows for. They’re all just a quick search away.

Many, many, more resources are there on the Internet for you. I’ll take a deep dive into those on the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s website for those of you wanting more out of Scratch… Until next time, keep coding. It’ll keep you sane. Or it’ll drive you mad in entirely new and different ways.

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