What to expect

Welcome! Let us first say, it’s awesome you’re here. Every single student we work is different in some way. They all end up going a slightly different path of their own, and we love you for it. That said, it also makes it hard to know what to expect at times! We’ve have everything from calculators to kittens, databases to robots, baseball statistics to bullet physics! We’ll layout what a typical starting journey looks like, but be aware, once you get started you may find you choose your own adventure.

While we lay this out in days, it may not take you all day. You may knock some days out at home on your own. Everyone moves at their own, don’t hold yourself back waiting on us. If you want to keep going, do it!

Learning the basics

Day one

If you’re just starting out programming, we suggest you get your start in a drag and drop programming tool call ‘Scratch.’ It’s a pretty simple process.

Step one:
Take their online getting started lesson. It will help teach what tools are available and how to use them. Just follow the directions on the right side of the screen to get your first project underway.

Start with Scratch

Step two:
Join scratch! Once you start work that’s all your own, you’ll want to be able to come back to it later. If you decide you want to present, you’ll need an account as well! From the top just about any Scratch page, click the ‘Join scratch’ link. You may need your mom, dad, grandma, or super cool uncle to help you by providing an email address. Once your account is setup, and you’ve verified the email Scratch sends you are all set.

Day two

You’ve learned the tool, you’re able to present. It’s time to buckle down, and show what you can do. It won’t be easy, but the tutorial taught you if, else, move, and perhaps even meow. It’s time to start learning from us. Every month, your mentors pick a theme and a concept to help you understand a little bit more. Shut your laptop during the presentation and listen hard! We’ve seen people pick up and understand the concept well enough on their first day to take home first or second place. And you? You’re on day two! You have skills that kid may not have. Listen up, set to, and ask questions. Your second day should be productive, and we hope to even see you present. Good luck Mr or Mrs first or second!

Days three through… seven’ish

Congrats on making it regularly. That kind of determination is what learning is all about.

At this point, you should know what you’re doing with Scratch, and be comfortable presenting. If not, this is the time to really dig in and muster up courage and creativity. These sessions should see you going for, and very likely, winning a first or second place on the theme of the session. In addition, you should start looking at the requirements for a mastery badge. We expect most students will win a first or second, and get their mastery project complete during this time. If you need extra help, we offer a mini-session between sessions you can join from home to ask questions.

Moving beyond Scratch – Real programming

We love scratch, and we’re always happy to see students learning through it. Even for the best of us, it’s sometimes ‘fun’ to just keep doing what we’ve been doing. But, you don’t get better that way. If you want to learn to really program, you have to get out of a drag and drop system, and start writing your own code. That can sound scary at first, but we promise it can be fun too.

Day one

We promised it would be fun, not even a sentence ago. So let us make good on that. Assignment one for getting into real programming, is a game. We want you to enjoy yourself the first day, so you’re likely to keep going. Anyone serious about learning knows that if it’s all work, you can barely do it. Today, we’re going to have you crawl, fight, and puzzle your way through CodeCombat. Don’t be fooled, you’ll have a blast but at the same time you are going to take all the Scratch blocks you ever thought of, and turn them into code instead! When it asks “Which programming language do you want to use?” pick “Javascript”!

Play CodeCombat

Day two

Time for a whirlwind preview of options. From here on out, you’ll be able to start choosing what you want to learn on your own. We’ll be there to back you up, but you get to pick the skill you want first. We recommend taking day two to have a look around at things you could do, and pick one to stick with for a while. You can continue learning pure Javascript, and start work on your very own interactive game or calculator, or move into learning to make a website to show off your work using HTML and CSS. We recommend you try both for part of the day!

Learn Javascript

Learn HTML

Day three through forever

That’s it! We can teach you anything you want to know, and we have loads we want to specifically. But from here on, you’re learning the way we do and building your own skills. If you need something else for a change, we’d love to teach you these ideas too. Just ask!

  1. Setting up a development project so you can see all your code at once, and get hints that make you faster.
  2. Setting up version control, so you can see the changes you made over time. It’s like having a time machine for code.
  3. Using other people’s code to make your own better.
  4. Visual pretty!

Got all the way to the end of this page? You might be ready for Mastery!