Monday, 14 December 2015

Hour of Code Review

This year was our most successful Hour of Code yet (IMHO). We had lots going on and it was pretty noisy in the kids room. Hour of Code on the website was assigned for homework so I don't have accurate stats on that but I did try to keep track of the extension activities with pictures and video. So here is the reflection on the week after the previous blog post about setup:

As I have previously mentioned, every library has great services and events but how do we market them effectively? The most successful marketing strategy for us has been leaving demo projects out on the children's help desk. We had many conversations over the past week about Lego WeDo Robotics because the Ferris Wheel, which was built by a student during Tinkering Tuesdays, was on display for kids to ask about. As soon as we reeled them in, we could say, "If you have 30 minutes you can build one yourself today!"  Consequently, this also helped all the staff to learn how to do a quick programming demo in Lego Robotics (with a helpful tip sheet as an aid).

Our other big hit was Sphero, our robot ball, which sat on the desk with a big sign that read "Ask to try". I started everyone on the same beginning Sphero app, where the iPad becomes a joystick to drive him around, but, in the spirit of Hour of Code, the programming app Tickle would have been more of a learning experience. Although I was surprised at the students problem solving how to move him, make him jump, and knock over cups. It's all physics (just not coding!).  Kids had a tough time taking turns, so it needed to be monitored better. Sphero has only 1 hour of juice for every 3 hours charged so keep that in mind when programming.

Sphero from Duxbury Free Library on Vimeo.

Stuart, our Elf on the Shelf, helped out posing with our Legos, Sphero and doing his own Hour of Code. If I have to take a picture every day, why not combine the two?  It's amazing how many kids come up to the desk that normally don't to talk about where their elf was last night.  In consideration for the diverse population, you don't need to use the elf, any stuffed animal library mascot will do. The kids love hiding our two Kermits around the room.

The Duxbury High School Robotics Club took the time during their busy competition schedule to come over and teach Lego Mindstorms for an hour and a half. Unfortunately only 1 kid actually showed up for it. I have learned from previous program busking that wording is everything so I went around the room and said, "Who wants to see Lego robots battle?" rather than "Who wants to program robots?"  I had 7 more kids using this strategy. I could not believe the attention that a 5 and 6 year old had for the entire program. The results are clear in their voices. It was great not to have to worry about learning all the ins and outs of Mindstorms. Why not have the experts do it?

Lego Mindstorm Robot Battles from Duxbury Free Library on Vimeo.

Our unplugged ideas were not used for their intended projects. Many kids just used the beads and gimp to make their own designs for bracelets which still works but not what I had planned.

I can't go the whole Hour of Code review without mentioning the website, which is the focal point of the whole week. It had fun activities this year that really tapped into popular culture with Minecraft and Star Wars as the big names. I made my own Star Wars Game using Blockly. There's no way to win just keep collecting the pigs until you can't anymore. I think middle schoolers would love making games where no one wins. I am debating about doing the extension activities like Lego robotics and Sphero the week after Hour of Code since it technically doesn't fulfill the hour doing these extra library activities.


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