Friday, December 13, 2013

A Day in the life: San Mateo Elementary and Erdkinder: A Summary of an Hour of Code

Dear Parents,
Thanks so much for the opportunity to spend an hour with the kids today. I wanted to let you know what we did so that you can help nurture any computer science interest that was sparked during our sessions.
First, I encourage you to spend some time at This is a new group that is encouraging Computer Science Education week - a time teach year to encourage children to learn about programming. The date is to coincide with Grace Hopper's [1][2] birthday. She gave us COBOL (the language) and (maybe) the term "bug" for a problem in a computer program.
Here's what we did today, in just one hour.
- Elementary -
We followed the "My Robot Friends"[3] lesson. This had the kids working in teams to write programs (on paper) to run on a robot (another student) to stack paper cups in fun patterns. None of the four teams made it through all eleven stacks, so your kids may want to write more programs to work the other stacks. Or maybe, come up with a stack or three of their own.
If your child is wanting to do even more, then follow-on with what we did in the Erdkinder class...
- Erdkinder - 
The girls paired up on iPads to do some maze navigation[4]. This works well on the iPad browser, though there was a bug on puzzle #9. Bah. All four teams made it to the end well before the hour was up.
There are several more exercises and programs at We downloaded the LightBot[5] game (free) to your iPads and the girls kept up with the "make a robot solve maze problems" theme. I expect that if this is still on your iPad this evening, you might not get it back.
Other options:
- Scratch animation tutorial, including making an animated Christmas card[6]
- Hopscotch (for iPad) [7]- another Scratch-like system for animation (started by women, including a former female co-worker of mine)
- Code Academy[8]:
- Khan Academy has programming tutorials
- The full 25 hour programming class at
Again, thanks so much to Christinia for the opportunity, to your kids for being fantastic students, and to you for keeping your kids interest in this important field burning.


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