This is the conclusion to a series introducing 10-year-olds to programming through Minecraft. Learn more here.

What an interesting four days! Time for some reflection...

What Went Right

  • It was fun for everyone. Apart from the pop quiz I gave on the last day :)
  • There was plenty of enthusiasm once a mod was finished and they could see the result. I heard the term "boss" more than once or twice.
  • Having everyone together at the same table made it easier to help more than one child at a time. They can also help each other.
  • They have great imaginations and cool ideas about what to do. It was good to set expectations about which mods we hoped everyone could create by the end of the class.

What Didn't Go Right

  • I need to be a more patient instructor :)
  • Copying code from a flipchart into an IDE that "helps" with auto-complete is difficult...doubly so when your hand can easily brush over a trackpad and hit other keys. It's amazing what "random" things can happen when trying to enter code.
  • Without being able to type at a decent rate (even 15 WPM), minor mistakes make the process even longer and lead to frustration.
  • Age 10 is probably too young for the average child to fully benefit from this camp.

Children and Computers

There is a real need to teach children about drives, directories, files and applications.

For an erudite article on this topic, please read "Kids can't use computers".

Although children these days (hah! I'm old) are routinely exposed to computers (whether it's a PC, iPad, or DS), many lack a basic understanding of how things work.

My (unfortunately) confirmed suspicion is that there is no comprehension of files/directories, applications, or the internet: it's all one big blur that kinda/somehow works. We spent a lot of time practicing copying files and creating directories, but it still hadn't sunk in by the end of the week. I take some solace in knowing this week provided a foundation they could build on over the next couple years :)

Final Quiz

  • What is the difference between Windows/File Explorer and Internet Explorer?

  • What is the keyboard shortcut for File Explorer?

  • What is the keyboard shortcut for Save?

  • What is the keyboard shortcut for Copy?

  • What is the keyboard shortcut for Paste?

  • What is the name of your computer’s hard drive?

  • Name three applications.

  • What application did we create our Minecraft mods in?

  • What programming language did we write our Minecraft mods in?

  • Circle all of the things that are important when writing code:

    a) spelling b) capitalization c) spaces d) semi-colons

  • What do red squiggly lines under your code mean? (2 things)  

  • What did we name our Minecraft package?

The next two questions refer to the following line of code:

public static final Item moustacheHelmet = 
         new MoustacheHelmet();
  • What is moustacheHelmet? a) package b) class c) method d) variable

  • What is Item? a) package b) class c) method d) variable

  • In the following line of code, what is addShapelessRecipe?

       new ItemStack(Item.diamond), dirt, dirt);

    a) package b) class c) method d) variable

  • If we want to store a whole number (without decimal places) in a variable, what type of variable would we use?

    a) String b) int c) float d) char

Running Your Own Camp?

I'd love to hear from you :) If you want any more information on the six introductory emails I sent parents or more details on the experience, drop me a line! My email is "me" [at] "jedidja" [dot] ca.