Is coding only for geeks, gamers or geniuses?

Image by Mike Leavenworth via Flickr

Is coding only for people who like maths, logic, and analytical thinking? For geeks, gamers or geniuses? Or is coding a means to create for the arts, human-centred design, empathy, storytelling, human connection, building imaginary worlds, characters and adventures, social impact and creative expression..?

In the words of Steve Jobs, ‘Computer science is a liberal art’. Coding and, more broadly, technology are tools that enable creation, innovation, expression and impact in any field or context, whether in sciences and maths or creative arts and social sciences. Forgetting the creative potential to coding means that we miss out on enabling creative types with a new tool. Let’s have a look at some of the creative, human-centred projects Australian students have built.

TED — Talking, Entertainment Droid:

TED is a companion robot, showing the scope for empathetic design within coding and robotics

TED, a talking entertainment droid, was developed by a student team of two Year 5 girls in the MicroMakers II program at Bulimba State School. TED is a companion robot that was specifically designed for people who are lonely. This is a beautiful example of a tech project that embraced empathy for users, solved a community problem and targeted social impact.

Animated story:

We first sketch storyboards on paper to outline the story and scenes. Students use the storyboards to plan and create animated stories with Scratch. Animated stories are a great tool for creative expression.

Interactive artwork:

Students can create interactive artwork by coding. We use ‘pen’ blocks in Scratch to create drawing and stamping sprites, playing with shapes, colours, and geometries. We create spirography with Turtle or bouncing shape animations with Python. Interactive artwork takes art to the next level by allowing users to interact with art in real-time.

Music app:

Students can build a music game where you can play musical instruments and create music. A student team presented their music app game at the Ashgrove Demo Day in 2016. The team even added artistic effects and made the instrument sprites change costumes when you play it. With coding you can be creative, musical and expressive.

Ballet practice app:

Image by Gaynor Minden

A Year 5 student team presented their project of a Scratch game that teaches the player basic ballet feet positions at the 2016 Young ICT Explorers competition. The team connected Scratch with Makey Makey and built their own input device which you can play with your feet. You play the game by stepping your feet on the correct foot pad and practicing ballet feet positions. This Scratch-Makey Makey ballet game is a beautiful, physical game which encourages creative expression.

These student-made technology projects are just a few examples of how technology can be used to develop creative, empathetic, artistic and human-centred designs. Technology is an enabling and empowering tool that can enhance creation in any context. Creative types can benefit from using coding and technology as a tool to create, innovate, express and make an impact. Coding is a creative tool for anyone.

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