A Fresh Start on Coding

Posted August 1, 2016 by

By Jack Rosenthal, Coding Specialist

eliana codingMaking a Peanut Butter and Jelly is pretty simple… right? As the Session 3 Coding Track campers found out on their first day here, it can be quite complicated. Using Sunbutter as a substitute for peanut butter at our nut-free (both the tree and the pea kinds) camp, the campers were given a quite simple task: tell me how to make a PB&J.

Little did they know that I would take every direction they said literally, and when their instructions were too vague, I simply said “Does not compute”. They quickly got the point when one of them said “Rip open the bread” as the first instruction.

It was loads of fun for all. After all… who doesn’t like a huge mess! But it had an underlying purpose: activities like Oz codingthis are wonderful computational thinking exercises. Computers will only do exactly what you tell them to do, in the order you tell them to do it. Most programming languages (with the exception of Perl) are very picky about syntax, giving you errors if you specified anything in a format that was not allowed. This is just like me saying “Does not compute”.

After all that, we got to go up to the coding lab where the campers got their brand new Raspberry Pis (3 Model B) they will get to keep at the end of the session. These Raspberry Pis don’t run Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X, but my own distro of Linux dubbed “Camp Inc. OS”.

coding session 3This past week the campers have gotten to learn about more than just the basics of Python, but also about Lists, Sets, and Dictionaries. This knowledge of data structures will help make for some cool projects this session.

Today, the campers will leave to Boulder to tour Google. Stay tuned for the news about the trip!