As part of our ongoing partnership with ChYpPS youth group, last week, a group of volunteers from Speechmatics were joined by Frontier employees to provide a coding workshop for the local children in Cambridge.
Having formed a partnership with ChYpPS last year, Speechmatics now attends Brown’s Field Community Centre on a monthly basis with the ultimate aim being to encourage and teach children to think for themselves and solve problems. Making fun games with the children is a great way to get them engaged and really helps to facilitate their learning.
This month, I was joined by two colleagues from Speechmatics, as well as Laura and Malek from Frontier to provide a workshop for the children. Usually, the sessions are independent of each other, but this month we wanted the children to try working on a larger project which can be continued over the course of several sessions. Frontier provided tutorial sheets to make a top-down space adventure game, similar to the classic ‘Elite’ game Frontier developed in the 1980s.
The children used the programming language Scratch, which is a block-based visual programming language. It’s ideal for this age group because it allows them to make quick progress without needing to worry about formal programming syntax. The children all made great progress, managing to get their ships flying around in space. Speechmatics provided USB sticks which will allow the kids to save their progress and take it home to develop. Many of them were very keen to continue so we are excited to see what progress they have made before the next session.
As part of making the game, the children had to get the background scrolling to give the illusion of ships flying through space. One of the children managed to come up with his own unique solution to this problem without following the instructions! This was really encouraging to see.
Having volunteered at the community several times, it’s really rewarding to see lots of the same faces continually coming back and tackling increasingly difficult challenges. I also enjoyed that the children were asking questions about why things were happening and really thinking about what they were doing, rather than just copying and following instructions.
I’m looking forward to seeing the children’s progress next month!
Interested to hear about what else we’ve got planned for our community? Read about our latest Go Meetup which aims to connect the programming community in Cambridge and spread the word of Go.
Tom Wordsworth, Speechmatics