Playful & Precise Programming - WICO Summer 2019 2.2


It was a great day at the WICO summer program. The morning got started with several kids who arrived early requesting to get back into the beetleblocks programming language. We were really happy to see that some of them created accounts after our workshop and continued working on designs once they got home.

After the morning circle, we moved to the cardboard computer cove to start programming the micro:bit, a mirocontroller that we’ll be using over the next few days of camp. For a quick & playful introduction to the idea of computation we asked the group to “program” Ryan to make a PB&J sandwich using only simple commands. It was super funny but also introduced the idea that “computers” are not so smart unless you program them and that you have to be specific when giving directions.


For the morning session we programmed the micro:bit LEDs and onboard inputs. Although we started with a simple prompt, many of the campers created really impressive animations and games. It was great to see how the group moved beyond uploading the simple icons and started using the plot blocks to create interactive light up projects.


Before heading out to lunch we went around the room for a “gallery walk”so that the campers could share what they were working on and thinking about. With computational tinkering it can be difficult to build in moments of reflection and sharing but it’s so important to build moments of community around the room.


After lunch we switched gears to building with physical materials to create a collaborative chain reaction machine. Although we shifted to a different scale and medium, the idea of needing to be really precise and deliberate with the projects was a clear connection.

We asked the group to work with someone who they didn’t know before and as usual, the process of building a chain reaction felt like a great way to get to know new friends by working through challenging ideas.

Before setting off the chain reaction we went around the tables and described the plan for each element of the machine. There were so many complex circuits, mechanisms and decorative elements.


At the end of the day we ran through the entire machine which worked beautifully (with a little help from our magic fingers) and reflected on the challenges and exciting moments from the day.