Tuesday, 18 February 2014

International Women's Day Celebration- Coding for Girls - in the news

Good to see the Coding workshop in the news!
Community Published on 18.02.14 08:45

Kids and coding - One woman's mission to help girls in Luxembourg


Madhumalti Sharma has tapped into a growing market in Luxembourg - teaching coding to kids
Photo: JB
A young mum is doing her bit to encourage more women to study computer science by offering a free introductory class to computer programming for girls to mark International Women's Day.
Madhumalti Sharma, 38, launched computing4kids, workshops in English for young people aged 7 to 16 years in Luxembourg, at the beginning of 2014.
The software professional, who worked for IBM before moving to Luxembourg in 2009, decided to offer something else when she noticed how few girls were signing up.
“I had three or four girls out of 21 children,” she told wort.lu, adding: “That's when I realised it's worldwide, this issue (of a lack of girls opting to learn computer programming) and I should do something.”
The Indian national from Calcutta was involved with similar computer science programmes organised by IBM in India, where computer programming is popular but women remain under-represented in the field.
“The idea was to show the girls it was an interesting career option,” she said.

File photo
Photo: Shutterstock
Learning while having fun
Madhumalti said that programming is not as complicated as some might think. Her informal, workshops held at her home in Kirchberg, serve as an introduction by touching on concepts related to computer science.
Combining computer-based and paper activities, the mother-of-two helps children to understand how computers think and gets them motivated by coding using games like Angry Birds or Plants vs Zombies, for example.
“It's not like a typical class where they have to go and do something or complete homework for. It's about learning while having fun,” she said.
The young people are then able to pursue their own interests, whether they be in learning a specific code, designing phone applications or understanding how games work.
The result has been overwhelmingly successful, prompting Madhumalti to put on additional workshops.
“It's very interesting to see the children getting excited. It's heartening to see at the end of the class when the parents are waiting and the children don't want to go!” she said.

Photo: JB
Coding for the masses
In addition to encouraging girls to take an interest in computer science, Madhumalti wants coding to be taught more widely to youngsters in Luxembourg.
Currently, a pilot computer club is offered to students at the International School Luxembourg but in other international schools and in state schools, she suggests there is scope for introducing this subject.
“If you see what we need computers for today, it is easy to see that over the years, the number of applications for it will only increase. In fact America says there are going to need 1 million programmers in the next few years and there's going to be a big deficiency of people who know how to code,” she said.
In addition to working with children, she is open to offering courses to adults, provided there is demand and she has the time.
Introduction to Computer Science: An Hour of Code for girls, will be run on March 1, from 10am to 11am at Kirchberg.
The session is FREE but spaces are limited and participants must register in advance. Book your place by emailing workshop4me@gmail.com.
For more information, please visit www.workshop4me.blogspot.com

Here's the link

Thanks to Code Club Luxembourg for tweeting about it!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014


Session 5 - Conditionals
The final session for this series was interesting in the fact that it tied up all the concepts learned and provided a recap. We talked about the difference between If, else, otherwise, while, until and when to use which conditional. It was demonstrated with a game of playing cards. Based on the colour of the card drawn, the points were awarded to the teams. Different blocks of code were shown and the participants had to go through the code to decipher which condition was met and which team got how many points.
A brief look at how Blocky code was written in JavaScript was shown and the participants then clicked on Show Code button on the site to see it after they finished their code. The participants then went back to the drag and drop coding starting where they left off.

The end of the session was 5 minutes of what went well during the sessions and what could have been better. Many children could not think of what could be made better and said they were very happy with the sessions. they felt they also learned a lot. Some of them suggested that much time should not be spent on teaching the concepts but only on coding. Although I heard that, am not completely convinced it will work especially later on when they get into more serious programming. Understanding the concept is important to be able to apply in different contexts, is what I think. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

How many ways and which is the best?

Session 4 - Algorithms

The first part of the session comprised two activities:

1. Using tangrams to teach how the computer can easily misunderstand what is being said and how important it is to give simple,clear instructions. The children enjoyed taking turns in being the computer and programmer. The computer team tried to follow instructions given by the programmer team to construct an object made from tangrams. It taught the smaller children shapes like parallelogram, and also what a hypotenuse of triangle is! After a couple of rounds in trying to get the computer team to understand what the programmer was trying to explain, they were quick and seeing how difficult it was to accomplish even a simple shape!

2.  Paper folding to make 16 rectangles in different ways, finding out which is the best way and why. For some children it was easy to get at the first go while for others it required several tries to come up with alternative ways and then decide which is most efficient.

The computer activity thereafter was from where everyone had left of. Continuing to draw shapes as the Artist, or be the Farmer, the children learnt the concept of repeat blocks, if blocks and the while block. It was interesting to hear the situations in which they would like to use the different blocks. While some children wanted to apply the concept of "efficiency" learnt to make the code shorter, others were happy as long as they cleared the level!