Part of the mission at LitheSpeed is to reach back to the community in some small manner, each of us committed to that notion in our own unique way. The thought of engaging with kids resonated with us, but of course, we didn’t quite know where to begin. Ideas were tossed around, and soon, one of them took root and we put forth our maiden venture – a Kids Programming Workshop. An experiment really, so we extended the invitation to our own kids and some of their friends. We limited the group to about 20 kids (8 to 12 year olds).
The platform of choice for the workshop was Scratch, a fun and intuitive visual programming tool conceived of at MIT and provided free of charge. Scratch helps kids to think creatively, reason systematically and create their own stories, games and animation using typical programming constructs and commands that can be snapped together like LEGO-blocks.
We set up some laptops in our training facility and picked a Saturday to run this ½ day session, quite unsure of how it was going to play out. The agenda was quite straightforward – a short introduction, followed by time-boxed immersive exercises conducted in pairs, followed by a showcase. Heck, even if it were a train wreck, there was pizza at the end to make it all right!
We need not have been so anxious as to the outcome, because it was a blast! Amongst the kids were some seasoned Scratch programmers who not only demonstrated their talent in creating expressive, engaging games, but also impressed us with their willingness to guide and help the novices along, and the hubbub of active learning and problem solving within the space was simply exhilarating. It was amazing to see the kids take to it so readily and so enthusiastically.
Buoyed by the success of this pilot, we are committed to broadening the reach and scope of similar initiatives this year. Try it for yourself and see if you catch the itch to Scratch.