This past weekend I volunteered at an Hour of Code event being held at a local library. I did this late last year too in 2015, and had a blast teaching and guiding the kids on the basics of programming. It is always a great learning experience for me to give back to the community in this way. If you haven’t heard of Hour of Code before, it’s a “global movement to reach tens of millions of students in 180+ countries” that provides students the opportunity to learn about programming. No previous experience is needed and it is for all ages. According to the website here, there are currently over 142,000 Hour of Code events around the world happening – wow!
Personally, I didn’t get introduced to programming until I was in my early twenties. Before then, I was into learning graphic design by messing around on Photoshop.. If I still had my old computer, I’d post some of the signature banners or “siggys” I did for fun. It was a different time though. Youtube didn’t exist and in order to learn some new tips and tricks, I would go to Barnes and Noble for inspiration. The way I learn now in the present is so different too. I don’t rely on books as much, and instead go to blog posts or video tutorials to learn new skills. All this free, open information for learning code is a great advantage for the kids in today’s world.
At the Hour of Code event, we introduced the basics of programming by explaining the definition of algorithms and how they are used to create Steps for a computer to follow. Those steps are essentially the code or language that is communicated to the computer. The code used in the exercises in the workshop were simple symbols like a left arrow, down arrow, or right arrow to make the computer or robot move in a certain direction. The exercise was to have two students partner up in which one is the computer and the other is a programmer. The programmer would write the directions for the computer to take in, while the computer would interpret it.
Surprisingly, the students were very engaged throughout the process. These were kids aged anywhere from 5 – 17 years old that were learning the beginner concept of coding! It was quite awesome helping the students and encouraging them throughout the exercise with high-fives. We didn’t have time to have them move onto playing some of the interactive games on the library iPad’s, but directed them to the website so they can do it at home.
I look forward to volunteering again next year when Hour of Code rolls around! It’s a wonderful experience and I highly recommend it to fellow developers who are looking to volunteer. I would love to someday be an instructor for teaching the basics of web development, and this is a great start in that direction. So, check if there are any Hour of Code events in your community and reach out to any teachers who may need your assistance this week.