Today I gave a school assembly at Burley Oaks Primary School on the CodeClub class I’m a volunteer for. I was nervous! I was pitching my class to 106 Year 6 students, seeing who would be interested in learning to code using Scratch, making games and learning the building blocks of development. I got some great advice from the Head Teacher (Claire Lee).
I have to say it went better than I expected, as nearly everyone wanted to come to the class. A shame really because I can only really do 12 at a time, so we’re hoping to get more volunteers for the school.
If you just want the presentation files, skip to the Downloads at the bottom.
So here’s what I talked about, and some hints and tips for others who want a little headstart on their assembly.
Make it fun
My presentation had a few silly images, and a little humour. Honestly it was nothing different than I normally do for my talks with adults, I sprinkle in a little fun to break up the information.
Explain what coding is
Most children won’t understand what coding is, so I explained that it was about writing in computer language what you want the computer to do and then running it. I showed examples of different development to put it into context.
Relate it to gaming
I showed different games and explained that they were coded by either single people or teams, and that they did the same thing i was going to teach them, but with words instead of Scratch’s drag and drop interface.
Interact with the kids
Keep the kids engaged, there’s nothing worse than a presentation where the kids are made to listen without thinking. It turns them off, so ask them questions and get them to raise their hands or make noises. When I showed images of games, I asked the kids if they knew what games they were.
So, here’s how my presentation basically went, you could do something similar. I’ve put the rough wording I used with each slide before each:
Hi everyone, thanks for coming. There’s more of you than I thought, I hope you’re going to like what I talk about. Let’s get started. I’m here to talk a little about an after school club I am starting in a couple of weeks. It’s all about learning how to be a programmer. It’s called CodeClub.
Let’s start with who I am.
I’m Jamie van Dyke. I’m a very serious man. This is my serious face.
I run my own company, it’s called Fear of Fish. I’m not really scared of fish, but it’s a funny name isn’t it?
I do lots of different types of development. For example I do web development, which is making web sites.
I also do applications for iOS, which means the iPhone, iPad and iPod.
I make applications for Apple Mac’s.
I used to do Windows applications too, like the ones you use on your computers at school and maybe at home.
But we’re not here to talk about me, we’re here to talk about what we can do in our little club…and that’s make games. Do you recognise some of these games? Let’s see how many of you know what these fluffy creatures are for. Hands up if you know what game these are from? (get answers).
How about this one…and this one ( did the same for all 3 )
Do any of you know what this little clip is from? (get responses, my first answer was minesweeper which was a good guess) That’s right, it’s Tetris. This isn’t the original game, this is one that was made by someone else. How old do you think they were?
( take some guesses, have a giggle with them )
The person who wrote this version was just…wait for it.
9 Years Old! Yep, somebody your age wrote this. They wrote it in Scratch, which is what we’re going to learn. How amazing is that?
It’s crazy! Just like this littly kitty!
Let’s have a look at some other things that you might think would have been coded. Do you recognise these images? Each one of them had to be coded to tell the computer what to do. (Talk about each one and get the kids to guess what they are)
These are programs you could probably guess were programmed. How about some that maybe you wouldn’t.
These ones are little less obvious. We have some chocolates coming off a conveyor belt. How did the conveyor belt know when to stop and start, how did it know how much chocolate to put in each heart? It was programmed.
How about the watch? How does it know what time it is, and how does it know what to draw for this little chart here, or the timer here?
Finally, what about this plane? Yep, this is programmed too. A lot of planes nowadays can fly themselves, they can takeoff and land without a pilot! All of this had to be programmed into the plane.
How do we program these things? We use programming languages, computers know how to understand this code. It’s like learning English, except it looks a little scarier. It’s not scary though, once you learn it. This is code I use on a daily basis, it looks a little like English but the computer knows what I mean.
We’re not going to learn this though, this is what you could move into after you learn the basics of coding. We’re going to learn Scratch.
This is what Scratch looks like, it has very few words that you need to use. Instead we drag and drop these blocks around and each one tells Scratch what to do. If we want to move this carpet across the screen when we press the left arrow on our keyboard, we use a block that says “When I press my left arrow”, and we would link that to a block that says “Move the carpet to the left”.
it’s nice and simple. Let’s have a closer look.
Here we go. This one is a little more complicated, but you can see that it’s just little blocks that look like a puzzle when you put them together. By piecing these blocks together, we can make lots of different types of games.
We’re going to start off with a game which has a cat and a mouse, and you have to move the mouse around using your computer mouse to escape the cat. The longer you stay away from the cat the bigger your score gets. Who would like to make a game like that? (ask for a show of hands)
Okay, no you have the idea of what we can learn to do. Who wants to ask questions?
This is basically how my talk went, there were lots of questions about what you could do with the app once you were done. Like can you share it, can you sell it (A young entrepeneur in the making!), can you do multiplayer. Make sure you understand Scratch before you do your presenation, they can ask some difficult questions!
If you want any other advice please get in touch I’d be happy to help. You can contact me through my email address or on irc #codeclubhq on Freenode, or twitter @fearoffish.
Good luck, fellow Code Club volunteers! Here are the links for the presentation download if you want to download the presentation: