Tag Archives: Code.org

Learn to Code this summer at Maclure Library

On June 20th I assisted with a Code.org Hour of Code event at the Maclure Library in Pittsford, VT.  We had 6 participants, one adult and five young folks.  I met some very sharp and up-and-coming young programmers on Saturday.  I hope they continue learning and gaining more skills in this area.

Bonnie Stewart is the Librarian at Maclure Library, and she is planning some summer activities, including some events or sessions related to learning to code or program computers.

The Maclure Library recently switched to a new website, so they don’t yet have their calendar of events listed.  But if you are interested in what they are planning for summer activities, you can contact the Maclure Library at (802) 483-2972.

Have a nice summer!


Next event, January 31: HOUR of CODE Challenge

Saturday, January 31, 2015, 1-3PM
Rutland Free Library, Fox Room (upstairs)
10 Court Street, Rutland, VT




All ages welcome.  Bring your laptops.  We will do the Code.org “HOUR of CODE” challenge.

Learn the basic concepts of computer programming, using a fun visual approach.  If you have never done the Hour of Code, you can start with the HOC Challenge.  Using a video-game maze theme, build short computer programs to make Angry Bird catch Bad Piggie, by snapping together Lego-like program code blocks on your screen. Later on you can make the Zombie find the Sun Flower in the corn maze.  When you successfully complete the HOC, you will get an online Certificate of Completion.  We can help you save or bookmark your certificate image to your computer, so you can print it out at home.


In between the HOC exercises you can view video messages from Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Black Eyed Peas founder will.i.am, and NBA star Chris Bosh (he studied computer science in college).

If you have done the HOC Challenge before, you can go “Beyond the HOC” with additional exercises and challenges to learn more programming concepts on Code.org.  Also, for those who might be interested, you could also try the free tutorials from Codecademy.com, another free to use website to learn programming logic.

In 2014, we held two events around Scratch programming.  If you complete the Hour of Code and/or Codecademy, you will be ready to tackle Scratch programming, which has even more capabilities, and is also a visual approach to computer programming.

As Douglas Rushkoff’s book title says: “Program or Be Programmed”.  Learning to program is like learning another “language”.  It’s another aspect of “computer literacy”, writing programs, instead of just using them.

Tell your friends and family about the Rutland Tech Club.  This event is also posted on the Rutland Herald inViTe Calendar!

We look forward to helping you with the Hour of Code Challenge,

Ron, Steve and Chad

Code.org predicts IT Job Gap

According to Code.org, which provides free tutorials on computer programming, they predict that over the decade 2011-2020, the U.S. will have an IT job gap of 1 million jobs.  Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the combined available jobs (1.4 million) could outpace the number of Computer Science college graduates (400K) over this decade.

There are 33 U.S. States where a computer science course does not count towards high school math and science requirements.  Luckily, Vermont is one of 17 States that does recognize computer science as required course.

I was very fortunate to have taken a BASIC computer programming course in 1974, on a teletype machine with dialup modem, taught by a very good math teacher.  It got me started on a long and interesting career path.

Sadly, 90% of U.S. schools do not offer computer programming courses.  So, I was pleased to recently hear that Stafford Tech will be starting a STEM Academy program in 2014-15 school year.

Free Training Websites on Computer Programming for Beginners

Codecademy and Code.org are two websites which provide free tutorials on computer programming for beginners.

Codecademy has training for HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, Python, Ruby, and APIs.  Codecademy uses an interface where you type in program code and commands on the screen.  This approach feels like one of the “Integrated Development Environment” (IDE) tools that are commonly used today (i.e. Eclipse and others).  The lessons walk you through the steps you need to take to write programs, and gives you feedback and hints along the way.

Code.org uses a more visual approach for developing programs.  They have an “Hour of Code” challenge that has 20 exercises.  Each challenge resembles a video game maze (Bird chasing Pig, ala Angry Birds, or a Zombie going towards a Sunflower).  This approach is different from playing video games, in that you are not using a “real-time” joystick or controls to move and react as you go.  Instead, the programming approach requires that you study the maze first, and then plan out your moves ahead of time.  Before you can run your program (strategy or plan), you have to assemble and sequence the program steps (snap-together code blocks like Lego blocks) to build or “write” the program.  You can “test” your program by clicking the “Run Program” button.  If you want to start over and try again, there is a “Reset” button, which puts the characters in the maze back to their original positions.

Actually, the Hour of Code programs are written behind the scenes for you, based on your assembled code blocks, which you can drag and drop to fit them together.  So unlike Codecademy’s approach, you don’t know which underlying computer programming language is actually being run.  But on the other hand, the Code.org approach is covering the basic programming concepts that are common to many computer programming languages (sequence, if condition, if/else, do loop or for loop, and do until loop).

Continue reading