Teaching Kids Game Programming

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For quite a few summers, I've taught kids ages 11-14 an Introduction to Programming Course held at the Young Scholars Institute. The kids start not knowing anything and after 5 days they have written full games using Java and Processing.org. I will do an overview of how and what I teach them, their learning process and how to keep them interested, and what I've discovered through the years. There will also be a few demos of the games the kids have written, including Tron Light Cycle, a version of Guitar Hero, and others. (Demos not in the presentation) You can watched the talk at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/2370164

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Teaching Kids Game Programming

  1. 1. Teaching Kids Game Programming Christopher Cotton Barcamp Nashville 2009
  2. 2. Why? why teach kids coding? why this talk?
  3. 3. Why teach kids? <ul><ul><li>Wished I had this </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kids get so excited, a real challenge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inspire them to learn more </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Future! </li></ul></ul>Why this talk? <ul><ul><li>I love the teaching </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Better than building widgets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inspire you </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. But, really why? demo: video
  5. 5. What? Intro to Programming
  6. 6. What do I teach? <ul><ul><li>Functions, Class </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Graphics, Screen Layout </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Math </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Animation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Event driven </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Game Logic </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. What? but really what do I teach?
  8. 8. But, what really? <ul><ul><li>Logical Thinking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Experimentation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How to Teach Yourself </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Thoughts into Code </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Where? YSI
  10. 10. Where? <ul><li>Young Scholars Institute (YSI) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Part of Franklin Special School District </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Around for 25+ years </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2 Weeks during the Summer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1400 Kids, 120 Teachers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>http://fssd.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=110&Itemid=207 </li></ul>
  11. 11. What technology? Language? <ul><li>  processing.org </li></ul><ul><li>java </li></ul>
  12. 12. Why Processing? <ul><ul><li>Full running app in one line </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>FREE FREE FREE </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Runs on Mac/Linux/Win </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More complex event driven </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. What do I teach? details details!
  14. 14. First day most common question?
  15. 15. First Day <ul><ul><li>When can we get on the computers? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Car racing! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Functions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Drawing, colors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Overview of processing, reading docs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>demo: </li></ul></ul><ul><li>01 drawing </li></ul>Content
  16. 16. Second Day most common question?
  17. 17. Second Day <ul><ul><li>Where do I put this code? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Animation - movement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>program structure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>if </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>demo:  </li></ul></ul><ul><li>02 first playing with random 03 animations </li></ul>Content
  18. 18. Third Day most common question?
  19. 19. Third Day <ul><ul><li>Why is it doing this?!?!?! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Game basics - health, score, collision </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>key moving, mouse control </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Each kids on different path </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>demo:  </li></ul></ul><ul><li>04 block style games (not breakout!) </li></ul>Content
  20. 20. Fourth Day most common question?
  21. 21. Fourth Day <ul><ul><li>How much time do we have left? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Building their own game </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>demo:  </li></ul></ul><ul><li>05 almost art 06 guitar hero </li></ul>Content
  22. 22. Fifth Day and Beyond most common question?
  23. 23. Fifth Day, Beyond <ul><ul><li>How can I get this? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Finishing Their Game, Demos! Demos! Demos! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>demo:  </li></ul></ul><ul><li>07 tron light cycle 08 written over the year </li></ul>Content
  24. 24. Final Thoughts  
  25. 25. Final Thoughts <ul><ul><li>Challenge: not answers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Let them learn </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They built a game! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Amazed at just one week </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>So Much Energy, Fun </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Go teach your passion Q&A
  27. 27. Contact me: <ul><li>http://christophercotton.com/ </li></ul>

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