Welcome to Code Champions

Computer coding is one of the most important digital skills to have in today’s hi-tech world. Combine this with the fact that schools are starting to implement a Digital Curriculum and it means coding is now part of modern learning.

Whether your daughter or son is interested in computer coding or you just want to give them a head start in their studies, Code Champions is for you. We run after-school classes teaching computer programming. We host courses at schools and aim to introduce students to the basic principles of coding and computational thinking.

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Some ideas to help you keep coding during the holiday

code champions logo_altWant to continue coding in the holiday break? Peter Miller describes some of the ways you can do this.

  • Parents of younger children: Read over with your children, to help comprehension, and to support a diverse range of coding activities.
  • Students of all ages: Show and teach your parents and friends what you know!

Diversify your coding

Beetle Blocks screenshotDoing and using different projects / activities / languages / environments will give you perspective on, and grow, your coding abilities and transferable skills:

  • Try adapting an idea or feature from a game/app into a different language / environment.
  • Use online resources when trying something new, such as:-  guides, exercises, FAQs, challenges, eLearning / online courses.
  • Use Hacking to discover, explore, understand and collaborate / share.
  • Try using Scratch, Tynker, Beetle Blocks, Gamefroot, and p5js

Grow your Hacking skills

Hacking is how you teach yourself to understand the commands and capabilities in a language and environment, how to combine them, and how they interact:

  • Once change at a time
  • Reversible/undo-able changes
  • Small changes
  • Collaboration
  • Not perfectionism
  • Small/prototype projects

Be methodical

Complex code is built from simple beginnings.  Use this simple methodology to grow your code and coding skills:

  • Make a start.
  • Start simple and do what you know.  
  • Hack and make something more complex.  
  • Repeat and do something new, now what you know has grown.

Be creative

pacmanCoding requires creativity, both to solve problems and to come up with ideas / features which let you develop your coding skills.

  • Use inspiration from everyday life to think of scenarios to frame your ideas, such as objects, scenes, behaviours. Also draw on ideas from books, documentaries and movies.
  • Try early arcade/computer games/apps for simpler ideas and features. Hardware limitations meant less complex games/apps and increased ingenuity and playability.
    • Try 70s and 80s arcade machines and home computers like ZX Spectrum, C64, Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, and Pacman, Dig Dug, Space Invaders, Defender, Joust, Tron, and Pole Position.
    • Look at youtube videos and walkthroughs; also emulators.
  • Do something different to the Tutor starters / examples / samples shared in class.

Do code

Coding involves actively starting and growing your projects, by adding code that features a diverse range of core concepts. If you are using these concepts and growing your code, then chances are you’re coding!

  • Control flow 
  • Variables
  • Boolean logic and comparisons 
  • Conditionals
  • Functions/Custom blocks 
  • Objects/entities

Coding involves a diverse range of activities.  Make sure you are spending time on many different activities; switch to a different activity, or start a new project/prototype, if not:-

  • Create 
  • Design  
  • Plan
  • Collaborate 
  • Research
  • Contribute 
  • Implement
  • Test
  • Review 
  • Share

Practice good device hygiene by limiting the amount of time you spend on all devices, including time coding!  Coding takes time and concentration but also requires rests/breaks, and doing a diverse range of other physical and mental activities.  Help your coding by giving yourself a break!

Not coding

  • Just browsing/playing videos, apps and games.
  • Modding/skinning.
  • Spending all your time on research.
  • Spending all your time on one feature/idea/area/prototype/project

 

Compiled by Peter Miller, tutor, Code Champions

‘Hacking’ and working with BeetleBlocks

Students at Churchill Park School, Marist College and St Heliers School are coding with our tutor Peter Miller. Here’s a summary of the work that he’s doing with his classes in 2018.

Beetle Blocks screenshot

Overall

  • Students will be working with 3D environments during the 2018 terms.
  • There is no set programme for a term, rather the students are encouraged to explore and progress, from whatever their current abilities, at their own pace.
  • A note of the topics/areas touched on will be made available to parents after each week of lessons.
  • Students are encouraged to manage and limit their own screen time.

 

Core concepts that will be covered/reinforced throughout any term include:

  • Hacking, problem solving and referencing.
  • Control flow.
  • Values, variables, lists, objects, properties, hierarchies.
  • Conditionals, predicates and boolean logic.
  • Functions / Custom blocks.
  • Messages and events.
  • Encapsulation.

beetleblocksDuring Term 1, students are learning about:

  • Hacking (as in Hacker spaces, not as in the movies!) as the primary learning methodology — the way they teach themselves how to code.
    • This will be ongoing/reinforced throughout all sessions this year, and students are encouraged to hack at home; this can be continuing work from class, or their own projects/coding environments.
    • Students used Beetle Blocks (www.beetleblocks.com) for their hacking in class. Any language/environment can and should be used by students outside of class to hack – transferable skills/experience is a crucial part of the learning process, such as Scratch, Tynker, p5js, and Processing.
    • The principles of hacking are:  Undo-able changes; One change at a time; Small changes; Not perfectionism (working on lots of aspects, not just one small area); Small prototype projects (not one big project); and Collaboration with and supporting their peers.
  • Bugs and Glitches.
  • Cursors (aka Beetles), Movement, rotation, scaling and object creation in 3D.
  • Control Flow: Sequences and Repeat Loops.

Any questions, get in touch at info@codechampions.nz

Code Champions is now official ‘extension activity’ at SKC

We’re delighted that Saint Kentigern College has decided Code Champions can be added to a student’s report as an ‘extension activity’, similar to the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme. This is great news!

It does not replace expectation of official extra-curricular involvement by College students – they still need to complete existing requirements – but the coding class will be recognised as an additional activity.

At the end of each term, we will provide SKC with a list of names of those who successfully complete the course (however, those who sign up but do not finish, or only partially attend, will not be eligible).

Quick guide to installing Unity

unity3d-logoFor those of our students using Unity, you can download the software to practise your coding at home. The class tutor Ken Ward’s prepared a quick guide to doing this, as follows:


IMG_3229Using the thumbdrive

Open the thumb drive and navigate to \Installers\Unity.

  • Run ‘UnitySetup64-2017.3.0f3.exe’ and follow the steps to install unity.
  • Then run ‘UnityDocumentationSetup-2017.3.0f3.exe’
  • Then run ‘UnityStandardAssetsSetup-2017.3.0f3.exe’
  • Finally run ‘vs_community__1363948043.1516091709.exe’

 


Without using the thumbdrive

Alternatively, you can download and install from: https://unity3d.com/get-unity/download


 

Create an account

When using Unity for the first time you will need to create an account. Just use the personal/free licence as this is free for students.

Visual Studio will also ask you to make login or create a Microsoft account, but you can just skip this as an account is not required. When installing Visual Studio make use to select the Unity Tools Option and uncheck the option install Unity 2017.2.0f3 which will appear after selecting unity tools.

 

We hope this helps. If you’re having trouble with this process, get in touch (info@codechampions.nz) or ask Ken at a class, and he’ll be happy to help.

The Code Champions team

Completing our first full week of Term 1 at St Heliers School

Yesterday’s inaugural classes at St Heliers School completed our first full week of Term 1.

It was another great afternoon of coding. The two groups of eager coders really got stuck in, exploring and creating code, and manipulating 3D images. (The Year 8 class was away on camp, so will kick off next week.)

Run by Peter Miller, the class this term is using BeetleBlocks (beetleblocks.com) as the platform for developing the students’ knowledge and understanding of computer programming. They made an awesome start. Well done. Roll on next week.

Check out some of the action from the first session.

Coding at Marist College

On Wednesday, we started our coding classes at Marist College – our first at a girls-only school.

It was great to see two groups of eager coders getting stuck in, exploring and creating code, and manipulating 3D images.

Run by Peter Miller, the class this term is using BeetleBlocks (beetleblocks.com) as the platform for developing the girls’ knowledge and understanding of computer programming. They made an awesome start and thanks, as well, to the senior girls who gave a helping hand.

Photos by Teresa Wilkinson

First ever classes at Kohimarama School

It was great to kick-off classes at Kohimarama School yesterday – our first ever at the school. Thanks to our awesome young coders. Unity is a coding platform that will be new to most of them. They were great and really got stuck in.

The basics of the lesson were to program an image of Earth to rotate and stars to flicker around it. That was achieved and more. Now they will be working towards creating their own game this term.

Meet LogicBots

logicbots 1Some of you have asked to find out more about LogicBots, the game created by one of our tutors, Kenneth Ward.

LogicBots is a puzzle game where robots are used to complete the various levels. But first you have to design and build your own unique robot to complete the challenges. It’s a lot of fun. Give it a go!

logicbots 2.jpg

The website is incandescentgames.co.uk/logicbots.html

The game is available on STEAM at steamcommunity.com/app/290020

You can read more about LogicBots in INTERFACE Magazine at interfaceonline.co.nz/2017/08/02/are-these-the-logicbots-youre-looking-for/

Or watch this independent video reviewer youtu.be/V-NwhcEGm8A