Here at SAP Next-Gen we strive to improve the technical skills of the next generation and enable them to use computers and technology as a tool to simplify the tasks they face every single day. We do this by offering educational courses and workshops and teach them in the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) subjects.
During the EU Code Week we offered multiple courses in cooperation with different partners like the Chamber of Commerce to educational institutions. Our courses were build around the programming language Snap! which is a free to use, block based language. It has been developed by my SAP colleague Jens Mönig in cooperation with the University of Berkeley California for educational purposes and can be used by all people age 9 to 99.
Due to the ongoing corona crises all our workshops with school classes were held online. To make sure there is still someone the children could ask questions face to face we briefed the teachers prior to the workshop and got support from them in the classroom whenever necessary.
We kicked off our activities with a workshop in cooperation with the Future Learning Lab (FLL) on Thursday the 15th of October. The challenge was to develop a game in Snap! and present it to the group at the end of the session. The participants in this workshop were teenagers at the age of around 16 years, their teachers and students of the Pedagogical University in Vienna. We started the workshop with inputs by Jadga Hügle, member of the Snap!-Team at SAP and passionate Snap!-Coach. She showed the participants different ways to write programs often used in games and enabled them to start working on their own ideas. After the input the students got to work. In small break out groups and supported by teaches and university students they used the just learned skills and designed different games. After about 45 minutes of coding time we met again, and the students presented their results. It was amazing to see how far they got with the input we gave them and the little time they had to work with it. All the games were well thought-out and will become even better when the students have a little more time to work on them.
Our second workshop took place the following day and this time we wanted to show the students different possibilities to connect Snap! with other machines to produce touchable, real live items. This time our participants were very diverse, starting at the age of 9 years old, up to middle school students at the age of 14 years. We had to find a way to bridge the gap between this age groups and make the workshop interesting for all of them. We managed to have a good introduction and all the kids were able to follow. Christian Pollek from the FLL showed how to use Snap! to produce beautiful shapes in a laser cutter and Jadga Hügle presented the possibility to stitch own design with Turtle Stitch using a programmable stitching machine. In the end the participants were able to see the stitching machine at work and take home their own coded masterpiece.
Our third workshop during the EU Code Week took place on Friday the 23rd of October as part of the WKÖ CodingDay. This time I lead the workshop myself and worked with 25 Kids from the Realgymnasium der Dominikanerinnen at the age of around 12 years. In this workshop it was all about art with Snap! We explored the art form pointillism and aimed to create our own works of art by writing a program that would allow us to alter every picture we wanted. The children were quick to pick up the basic knowledge on how to make the program work and not long after the workshop started, they were trying out their own ideas. In the end they created different filters and now have the ability to modify every picture they like.
„For the students this was like discovering a new world. They instantly wanted to know when we will do the next Snap! workshop”
Feedback from a participating teacher
All the workshops we did were playful and aimed to provide the kids with an easy start into the topic of coding. They still included important knowledge on how to handle a computer and how it operates. Some of the codes and solutions we showed them are used in most standard computer programms and they learned to understand them while using them on their own games or art work. We hope we were able arouse interest in topics like coding and thought the kids something they not only need in school but will find useful in life.