I’ve just returned from a very interesting and motivating day in which I was invited to Bällstabergsskolan in Vallentuna to introduce some of the students to programming. The school has an initiative called “the students choice” in which the students gets to choose activities for a full day that normally isn’t included in the curriculum and hence “Programming” was a topic.

I have to admit that I can’t really remember ever being as nervous as preparing for this presentation/workshop since the topic is very dear to me and I really didn’t want to mess it up and make it boring or to focused on details. There were also a couple of concerns that made it even more exciting:

  1. The students only have access to iPads
  2. They had already had some experience with Scratch and didn’t want to do that again
  3. They are in fourth or fifth grade which means that their english skills are somewhat limited

It ended up with the following agenda:

90 minutes: Thinking as a computer

Here I tried to discuss what programming involves, solving problems, patterns, languages, algorithms and some of the more theoretical aspects. I anticipated that the students would fall asleep in like five minutes, but they were really interested and I think some of the more practical exercises helped them stay awake.

90 minutes: Programming Cargo-Bot

I then decided to use Cargo-Bot which is a game on the iPad that mimics the tasks of a developer, splitting larger problems into smaller parts, using loops, conditions, functions, registers and programs. The fact that Cargo-Bot is completely developed on the iPad for the iPad (using an app called Codea) just made the usage more fun.

90 minutes: Programming in Python

The came the hard part, introducing programming in text using Python and Python Anywhere which makes it possible to write and execute python scripts without any local installation on the device. It worked quite well, but I believe we might have registered a bit too many accounts from the same IP since after 15 (or so) registrations, it started failing new registrations and the students intead had to pair up. It was no big problem however.

When 45 minutes was left I noticed the energy was beginning to fade and that’s when I pulled out the HoloLens and most of the students got introduced for the first time to Augmented Reality which was a great success. The level of energy increased and I finished the session with showing how javascript and Phaser.IO can be used to build games, mentioning and commenting the stuff the students had already learned earlier.

A big thanks to Bällstabergsskolan for inviting me to present this subject and I hope I get the opportunity to return later and possibly go a bit deeper into AR/VR/MR or maybe some more game development.