Monday, February 28, 2011

Basics - puts and gets

This week we went over basic concepts. We went over strings and puts and gets, integers, floats, conditionals and looping.

We reviewed the definition of a variable and about classes and objects. We wanted to first show classes and objects before getting to fundamentals of Ruby. We did this on purpose (putting together gosu games) so that kids would get excited about the possibilities.

This class on fundamentals went fairly well. I was concerned kids would be yawning with the lecture material. But we broke it down into a slide or two and an exercise, and that worked. The kids were really into it.

I was pleased with how well all of them did with the exercises. We will go over arrays and hashes next week and then back to gosu.

The presentation can be downloaded here. Please let us know your comments, or email us if you have any questions if you are following the lectures. Contact us at

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Transitioning to more structured concepts

During this Saturday session we went over how to package the gosu applications to OSX double clickable applications. Kids really want to be able to have others download the applications and just be able to play them. This is a way to do this.

We also introduced the Learn to Program book by Chris Pine. We will be using this book going forward to get started teaching the more fundamental constructs of programming. This comes after four weeks of working with them with gosu games, working very closely with them showing them how to write a full blown game. This was an easier way for them to see the potential of what programming can achieve.

However, they are not ready to write the programs themselves. So now we will go into the fundamental constructs of variables, conditionals, iterators and back to methods and classes.

We have setup a ningh social network to allow close interaction with these kids and also to set the stage for transitioning to less frequent onsite instruction and more online based. Hopefully this will work and will allow us to expand the audience.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A working session today

We started the day by showing the kids the increase in traffic we have to the site. We are glad to see that there is interest in teaching programming to kids. We will do our part and document our experiences as we continue with this effort. We have received encouraging emails and heard from some of you in the form of offering assistance. We will get back to you as we figure out how you all can best help the effort. Ideally, we have a self-replenishing system where these classes are routinely given to all kids that show interest.

After looking at the activity on the site, we very quickly got settled into a working session. Very little lecture, everyone wanted to work on building toolsets like platforms, jumping, maps and levels.

The concepts are getting more challenging now and we are all working hard to program this functionality with easy to understand concepts. This is a challenge for the tutors as we try to do these with enough clarity that students can follow and modify. We are getting ready to post the work in progress to github.