Geek Culture

Published on December 7th, 2015 | by Carli Spina

Combining Fandom and Hour of Code at Your Library

codeSince 2013, Code.org has aimed to encourage anyone and everyone, though particularly school children, to learn to code. As part of this, they have promoted the Hour of Code initiative, which aims to introduce the basics of coding and hook learners in a single hour. Though Hour of Code events can be run at any time, Code.org focuses their efforts on encouraging groups to run Hour of Code events during Computer Science Education Week each year. December 7th to 13th is this year’s Computer Science Education Week, so it is a great time to explore offering an Hour of Code event at your library. Best of all, Hour of Code now offers some tutorials that make it easy to combine computer science education with fandom programming.

Code.org offers a range of resources for both those who want to teach code and those who want to learn on their own. For those who are specifically interested in running an Hour of Code program, Code.org provides a number of tutorials designed to take about an hour and geared towards various age groups. They also link to even more tutorials that are designed by their partners for Hour of Code, including tutorials from Khan Academy and Tynker. For schools or libraries that can’t provide access to online tutorials, they even link to an offline exercise from Thinkersmith in both English and Spanish that teaches students computer programming concepts.

But, for librarians interested in offering activities related to fandoms, the most interesting aspect of the Hour of Code is the tutorials that are themed to various famous characters and movies. Currently, Hour of Code offers six such tutorials. Three of these are aimed at gamers. One has Mark Zuckerberg teaching students how to create a maze using the Angry Bird characters. The second teaches students how to design a version of the Flappy Bird app. The third, and perhaps most interesting to many students, has students moving characters through a Minecraft environment, and is a perfect tie-in to existing Minecraft programming that your library may already have. Movie fans haven’t been left out either. One of Hour of Code’s first pop culture-themed tutorials is their Frozen-themed tutorial, which has students help Elsa and Anna skate in different patterns. Fans of other Disney characters can instead work through the Infinity Play Lab, which offers access to Disney Infinity characters for use in stories and games. If you are running any Star Wars programming in advance of The Force Awakens, the Building a Galaxy with Code tutorial allows students to use either blocks or Javascript to program droids and create a game. Though not all tutorials are available in all languages, many have been translated into multiple languages, so no matter where you are in the world, Hour of Code is worth checking out.

I hope these resources will help you to offer a successful Hour of Code program! If the initiative truly takes off, Code.org has resources to go beyond this first hour and there are many other tools, such as Codecademy, Scratch, and Hopscotch, that can be used to take coding skills even further.


About the Author

Carli Spina is an emerging technologies and research librarian at an academic library. She is a big fan of graphic novels, young adult and children's literature, and popular culture and writes about these topics for several blogs including the Horn Book's Lolly's Classroom blog and YALSA's The Hub blog. You can find her on Twitter as @CarliSpina or on her website at http://carlispina.com



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