It’s been a while. Bit of a year. I won’t bore you with it. But I’m still running Code Clubs and still loving doing it! I’m still struggling with teaching the kids Python because I still feel the gap between Scratch and Python is too far. There are some kids that just want to keep doing Scratch and I feel strongly that they should be allowed to. I don’t think the objective of Code Club is to train kids to be programmers. I think it’s to have fun with computing, to help kids understand broadly how computers work and to help them understand that computers can be programmed to do what they, personally, want them to do. I also want to give kids inquiring minds that can solve problems and create processes and algorithms. And most of all I want to share with kids my joy in computing and technology.
So Python is on my mind because we’re at the halfway point in this term and I want to give the more programmery kids the opportunity to try it with me around to help them. So I’m looking again at beginner Python projects. The Turtle ones are probably the most visually interesting. If you know of a game creation library that could help us make Scratch style games in Python then please let me know!
And for the Scratch kids I’m creating my own projects as well as using the Code Club projects. My latest is this one – a classic Space Invaders. I’ve always wanted to write this. I’ve often though about how I’d solve the problem of making the invaders move as a block, travelling the full width of the screen despite the size of the block changing as you shoot the invaders. In the end you just need to set a flag when any one invader gets too close to the edge and then when the flag is set change the direction of movement.
The next big question is how I add bases. It’s going to have to be a collection of sprites I think. Not decided how many yet. And I’ll need some re-usable code to place all the sprite blocks together in the right arrangement to look like a base. And hope it doesn’t slow things down too much. That is the biggest challenge with Scratch.
I don’t expect my Code Club kids to write their own version of Invaders. It’s meant to be inspiring and perhaps a remix starting point for anyone that wants to modify mine. I make these things as much for my own enjoyment as theirs.