Dojo Activities

Each Turing House Dojo event will include some of the activities listed below.  Please read the descriptions carefully to decide which one is most suitable for your child’s age and experience, and do get in touch if you have any questions!

Scratch animation and game development

scratchScratch is a “visual” programming language suitable for younger children who are new to coding, or anyone who want to quickly create simple, fun animations and games.

Scratch is often introduced in Primary School and provides a stepping stone to the more advanced world of computer programming, teaching basic code structures without the need for much typing. Code blocks are dragged and dropped onto the page, and snap together like Lego, so once your child gets the hang of that they can quickly start being creative.

We will be using many of  Code Club’s resources for Scratch, so if your child has already used some of those at school, please follow the link and talk to them about whether they have been working at Beginner (Module 1) or Intermediate (Module 2) level.  We will have some additional projects too …. or your child can create something bespoke if they prefer!

Experience: We recommend this activity for young people over the age of 8 who are able to follow written instructions (either alone or with help from an accompanying parent).  No previous coding experience is required.

Equipment: You will need your own laptop, and we recommend that you bring a mouse for this activity, rather than relying on your laptop’s touchpad, because it makes dragging and dropping the code blocks easier.

Before the event it would be helpful if you could either:

If you are unable to do either of these, then please aim to arrive at the Dojo 15 minutes early so that one of our Mentors can help you to get set up.

Micro:bit

microbitMicro:bit is a tiny programmable computer, designed to make learning and teaching easy and fun. It can be used for all sorts of cool creations, from robots to musical instruments. At the Turing House Dojo we will be introducing Micro:bit using Code Club projects, and a simple drag-and-drop block code editor very similar to Scratch.

Experience: We recommend this activity for young people over the age of 8 who are able to follow written instructions (either alone or with help from an accompanying parent).  No previous coding experience is required.

Equipment: You will need your own laptop, and we recommend that you bring a mouse for this activity, rather than relying on your laptop’s touchpad, because it makes dragging and dropping the code blocks easier.

Python (beginner/improver level)

pythonPython is a widely used, text-based programming language.  It is very readable, and allows programmers to express concepts in fewer lines of code than would be possible in more complex languages such as C++ or Java.  It is therefore a very popular first choice for introducing children to “real” coding.

Python is often introduced in secondary school, although younger children who have good attention to detail, and who are confident at typing, can enjoy learning it too.

For beginners/improvers, we will be using some of Code Club’s resources for Python, so if your child has already used some of those, please follow the link and talk to them about whether they have been working at beginner (Module 1) or improver (Module 2) level.  Our mentors will also be using some of their own worksheets.

Experience: We recommend this activity for young people between 10 – 17 who have good attention to detail, but no previous coding experience is required.

Equipment: For beginner/improver Python you will need to bring your own laptop and you may also need to install some software. If you would like to do that before the Dojo you can find it here (we recommend the Python 3.5.2 option).  If not, then please aim to arrive 15 minutes early so that one of our Mentors can help you to get it set up.

Python Wall Ball and More

pythonThose who are already confident with the basics of Python, and want to try a more extended project, can join this session to develop a Wall Ball game.  There will also be further extension activities available for those who have completed their game and are ready to move onto something new.

Experience: We recommend this activity for young people between 10 – 17 who already have some experience of coding in Python.

Equipment: We will let you know if you need to bring your own laptop for this activity.  Sometimes we use the Raspberry Pi’s instead, in which case you won’t need to bring anything (except perhaps a memory stick to store your work).

Raspberry Pi

piThe Raspberry Pi is a tiny, wallet-sized computer with its “inside bits” showing.  It can help children to learn programming through fun, practical projects, and was invented because people thought that computer science education was focussing too much on software and not nearly enough on hardware.  It’s also one of the cheapest computers you can buy, so a great tool for education projects around the World.

The Pi is usually  connected to a keyboard, a monitor and a mouse.  It can then be used as a very basic programmable computer, for software projects, or as a platform for interesting hardware projects.

Equipment for Raspberry Pi: The Turing House Dojo has its own set of Raspberry Pi’s and the necessary peripherals (generously donated by Joskos Solutions), so you won’t need to bring anything for this activity (although you’re welcome to bring your own Raspberry Pi if you have one).

A USB Stick may be useful if your child would like to take their work home with them at the end of the activity.

Arduino

arduinoThis activity is recommended for participants who already have some experience of programming in a text-based language such as Python.

Arduino boards can be used to build simple electronic circuits which can then be programmed to do cool stuff.

They can read inputs, such as light on a sensor, a finger on a button, or a Twitter message, and turn them into an outputs, such as activating a motor, turning on an LED, or publishing something online. You can tell your board what to do by sending a set of instructions to its microcontroller. This code is called a sketch and is written and uploaded using Arduino’s own Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

The sketch code is very similar to C/C++ and so messing around with Arduino is a fun introduction to these languages without many of the complexities.

Equipment for Arduino: Arduinos and all components will be provided but you will need your own laptop with the Arduino IDE software installed (it runs on Windows, Mac and Linux). If you have problems installing the IDE, please come along 15 minutes early before the start of the Dojo and we’ll try to sort it out.

If you have your own Arduino, feel free to bring it along. We’ll be working with Arduino Unos but a Micro should be fine.

Build a Website using HTML/CSS/JavaScript

htmlcssjsThese days there are many simple editors for creating your own basic websites, without needing to “look under the bonnet”.  But, if you want to create something more bespoke, or  understand how websites actually work then this activity is for you.  It requires no previous programming experience, but attention to detail and confident typing will be needed to make the most of the session, and it may be particularly well suited to children in secondary school.

The simplest web pages are made up of just text plus some instructions to tell your browser how to display them.  The instructions are written in HyperText Markup Language (HTML). HTML documents can include things like text, images, sound and video, using ‘tags’ to organise the content.

Slightly more complex pages may have graphics and other design elements to make the page more attractive and easier to navigate.  Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are used to format and style HTML documents. For example, you could indent this paragraph of text or turn it green using CSS.

The most sophisticated web pages can change appearance in response to user input and they require programs to make them work.  JavaScript is one of the most common programming languages used because all web browsers support it.

Experience: We recommend this activity for young people between 10 – 17 who have good attention to detail, but no previous coding experience is required.

Equipment: Participants will need their own laptop for this activity, and install Atom (a text editor).  Please also install the Google Chrome web browser if you do not already have it. If you are unable to install these beforehand, please arrive 15 minutes early so we can help you to get set up.

2D Platform Game development using JavaScriptJS

In this activity, kindly provided by Kode.Farm Computer School, you will create a platform game that can run and be shared on the Internet. We will be using Javascript coding to look at:

  • how to animate a game character
  • how to control your character with keyboard presses
  • how to enable physics on your game elements like gravity, velocity, bounce and friction
  • how to detect when elements in your game collide with one another
  • how to keep track of the score and display it in your game
  • how to publish your game for free on the Internet for your friends and family to play online

While we do all this, you’ll be learning about concepts like variables, functions, objects, program flow, conditions and loops too. These things are very useful for any kind of programming that you may want to pursue. Because we use Javascript it will also help you to become familiar with the Internet’s favourite language used for web development, back-end server development, mobile application development and embedded systems.

Most of all, the session introduces you to basic concepts found in all types of game development and may lead you down an exciting path of 2D and 3D game development for phones, PC and Mac and game consoles.

Experience: We recommend this activity for young people between 8 – 17 who have good attention to detail. Some previous coding experience would be helpful but not essential.

Equipment: Participants will need their own laptop for this activity but no software installation is needed.

Lego Mindstorms Robotics EV3

mindstormsLego Mindstorms kits can be used to create customizable, programmable robots. They include an intelligent brick computer that controls the system, a set of modular sensors and motors, and Lego parts to create the mechanical systems.

In this activity you will learn the basics of programming a Mindstorms robot to complete simple challenges, such as following a line on a piece of paper, or turning when it senses an object.

Experience: We recommend this activity for young people between 10 – 17 who have good attention to detail, but no previous coding experience is required.

Equipment: Participants will need their own laptop (pc or mac) for this activity, and we will send you details of how to install some software beforehand.  No further equipment is needed – we will be using Mindstorms kits on loan from Turing House.

 

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