Seeds to Success

theCodeMatrix × Tully: Week 3

Without a doubt, one of the most rewarding parts of volunteering at theCodeMatrix is watching students successfully apply the concepts we have taught them to their projects! As we progressed through this week of the program, I was able to receive such a reward far more than once.

Week 3 at the Tully Library continued with lessons on Scratch’s block programming, including manipulating and displaying variables in the Scratch window, as well as the systemic process of isolating and debugging code. After the completion of our lessons, it was time to test students’ understanding of these concepts by having them create their very own Scratch projects — maze games with controllable sprites, points and lives systems. Although we knew that interesting projects were in store, many of us were unprepared for what happened next…

Every Scratch program begins in the same way: A small cat frozen on the Stage, with no scripts to manipulate it. From this blank canvas, students created intricate mazes, characters, objectives, obstacles, storylines, and code for every aspect of their game. As volunteers, we were impressed that elementary and early middle school students could break down a large assignment and address each component with relative ease. As mentors, we felt proud and rewarded that students were using their knowledge from class within their own games.

After some time, many students had completed the basic requirements for their projects. Rather than the feeling of boredom, what followed was an explosion of new features unique to each game — secret passageways, invisible or moving obstacles, special visual and sound effects, and practically everything in between! Further adding to my surprise was the fact that we had never taught the code to add these features. Within a few days, students have progressed from programming to the hallmark of thinking like a programmer: experimenting with new ideas and going beyond what is expected of them.

Although students using what they have learned from us is undoubtedly rewarding, even more satisfying is students using what they haven’t learned from us. That embodies the desire to learn, create, and innovate — qualities present within all of our club members. Whether or not their final project is flawless, their time at theCodeMatrix has certainly allowed them to cultivate these seeds to success. We look forward to continuing to mentor these kids and helping them obtain skills that will allow them to change the world!

Happy coding,

theCodeMatrix × Tully