I don’t usually blog in the summer, but I’m running a weekly summer code club at the library in July and I’m being a bit reflective about the monthly one that I helped lead this last year.
Earlier in the year, I introduced a new (to me, too) project to the Lebanon Library Creative Coders. We decided to take two of our monthly meetings, February and March, to work on the Create Your Own World project from Code Club World. I knew this middle school age group would enjoy creating a platform game. One of them even continued to work on it for a third month and was able to add a lot of detail like hit points, inventory list, and bad guys.
The first meeting we focused on setting up the player movement. We remixed Code Club Rik’s Resources for this project so we could jump right in with the coding. When I was prepping for our meeting, I went ahead and changed the character from a square to an overhead view of a guy walking. One of my original groups of students created Showcase projects called Tomb of Terror and Shadow Swamp with Hatty McWalker. That’s who I was thinking of with this guy.
The Creative Coders were certainly creative with the movement options. I’m used to using arrow keys for movement, but these middle schoolers liked ASWD and this creative ghoulish option with side arrows for turning and up for forward:
I’m finding it useful to look at the code more closely. There are some interesting, creative coding going on and I’m seeing some misconceptions that will help me help them debug their code.
I’ve seen this forever-forever coding before. Something is not working like they expect and they try to solve it with nested forever loops.
Or they are checking for an event and forget to put in the forever loop:
This wall checking code has been separated from the key-press event giving no response.
A couple of the coders explored more blocks where you can define your own. This led to a teaching moment for me to explain how these function blocks worked. It turned out less useful than my right-click to duplicate code suggestion.
All in all, they impressed me. In the moment I’m not always sure what is going on with everyone and even at the end when we stop to share what we’ve accomplished I don’t always know how they did.
Some of them didn’t want to continue what they had started the month before, but they were self-motivated and independent enough to work on their own projects.
I love that this crew is supportive of each other and willing to share their ideas and compliments.
Some of the same students have signed up for the summer session. I’m looking forward to it.