The future looks bright when you spend the day with 150+ primary school students to teach each of them how to code your own computer game, using Snap!
At the Women in Data Science event on February 3rd, I accidently met SAP Young Thinkers and heard abouthe great stuff they do. We established the contact and I had a follow up meeting with Christiane Bauer a few weeks later to understand how and what they could do to support me on getting more Computer science into primary schools, especially the school of my own kids.Snap! is a free, blocks- and browser-based educational graphical programming language that allows students to create interactive animations, games, stories, and more, while learning about mathematical and computational ideas. Snap! was inspired by Scratch, but also targets both novice and more advanced students by including and expanding Scratch’s features.
Our idea was to offer a Snap! Programming station at the school´s yearly Science day – to introduce the kids to programming and hopefully get some excitement going. We had a meeting with the school management, where we represented the parents and supported by Miriam Boehnke from SAP Young Thinkers. In the meeting, we received support from the school to offer the Snap! Programming activity during Science day, as well as interest to build on this first experience in a follow up meeting right after Science day.
On March 17th, all primary school students had a day off from normal lessons and used the day exploring various booths of experiments, building cars and tried out various exercises. For our Snap! Programming booth, we used the computer room of the school. Prior to the day, we have had several activities going on:
- First we have signed up other parents to help us during the day, so that we would be a minimum of 3 parents at the time
- Four children, who were used to working with PCs, were assigned to our booth to help the other kids
- We had programmed an easy-to-understand game, following the guidelines on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSLnwUuE3Xg (the video was produced by The Simple Club by initiative and with support of SAP Young Thinkers). This game was made available on all PCs for the kids to change simple stuff in the program by using Snap!.
- All kids were asked to do four assignments, being changing the background, adding another alien, having the aliens move faster and adding a talking bubble to one of the aliens. The kids had to do these assignments by understanding the code, change and add code blocks to the original code
- We gave all children a hand-out, listing all relevant links, the assignments and a short introduction to Snap! And we underlined for all kids that Snap! Is free to use and that they should go home and encourage their parents to code with them.
In order to break down any potential gender issues on who can program, almost all parents helping out were moms and all children trainers were girls. Yes, girls can code! 😉
The day was a 100% parent initiative, with great help from a supporting school eager to learn too, the SAP Young Thinkers team who taught us as parents to teach the kids – and we started a movement to support children in how to learn computer science and coding, and especially happy to see that in this age both girls and boys are approaching this with open minds. When we continue to support the education, we will hopefully also meet many of these girls in future IT jobs, bringing diversity into coding.
The school has now invited us to a discussion now how to extent on the Science day. E.g. we are discussing implementing Snap! Into afternoon project classes or even offer a AG after the summer break on Snap!
I am a proud mother, a proud employee of SAP and a proud citizen of the future world. To quote the feedback from the kids: “It was most fun today at Science Day to program with SAP” 🙂