Teen Coding Camps for the Technologically Averse

You can teach a coding camp!  Yes, you, the librarian hiding in the corner, shaking her head vigorously, saying, “but I don’t know HTML!”  As it turns out, the good people behind code.org (totally not affiliated, etc.) understand your fear and pain.  And lo, they did maketh a block coding course for thee!

After being burned by the whole “OMG WE NEED A MAKERSPACE EXCEPT NOW THEY’RE NOT COOL ANYMORE RATS!” fiasco, you may be leery of investing more time and energy in a tech program.  I feel you.  However, coding is a fundamental skill that teens will need in the future.  Pokémon GO was created with code!  All the actions and reactions are governed by code!

The great thing about code.org is that it’s completely free to use.  All you need to provide is the hardware.  In my department, we have iPads that we purchased with a technology grant, so we use those.  However, desktops or laptops will work too.  As long as you can access the interwebs, you’re golden.

When you create an account on code.org, sign up as a teacher.  This way, you can create and manage logins for your coding classes.  Make sure to work your way through the course before teaching it to teens because you will need to troubleshoot.  I didn’t do the Unplugged activities with my teens because they’re aimed at a younger crowd and it would have disrupted the flow of the class.

For my summer coding mini-camps, I started everyone out on course three.  One thing I realized I should have specified in the program description was that if you have any prior coding experience, this class will be too easy for you.  I had one teen who had taught herself Python, so the “code the zombie to turn left using a loop block” was a bit easy for her.

What’s great about the code.org coding program is that you don’t need to know any languages.  You need three things: problem-solving skills, math skills, and nunchuck skills.

Napoleon Dynamite Skills

Ha, kidding about the last one!  At its core, coding is problem solving, problem forecasting, pattern-making, and math.

One thing to be prepared for is that some (for me, ALL) of your teens won’t know basic math or geometry.

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