GEMS Event at Niles West April 22, 2017!

The Fox Valley Girls Coding Club extends a warm welcome and congratulations to all the girls attending the Niles West GEMS event for girls in grades 5 through 8.

I am thrilled to be presenting again! Our sessions will be an introduction to what coding is all about. Each group rotates through several different STEM sessions at the event, each about 30 minutes long. Here are copies of the material for anyone who wants to review Scratch/coding concepts.

GEMS Niles West Introduction to Scratch Handout: this is for people new to coding and covers basic concepts while building a GEMS Dance Party App based on the introductory tutorial on the MIT Scratch Web site

GEMS Niles West Advanced Scratch Handout: this is for people who are already familiar with Scratch and its basic blocks and introduces some advanced concepts (working with lists, clones, custom procedures). We start with the introductory project as a base and enhance it.

Welcome Huntley GEMS Girls!!!

We are happy to welcome the 7th and 8th grade girls from Huntley High School’s First Annual GEMS  (Girls in Engineering, Mathematics, and Science) Event to visit our Web site. We know you will be inspired by all of the activities and interactions the event offers and hope some of you may even want to be part of a girls coding club yourselves.

I am honored to have the opportunity to present at the event as a representative of our Fox Valley Girls Coding Club and of the Illinois Technology  Foundation. Seeing the high level of interest among you girls to learn more about the technical fields is so inspiring!

Our hands-on session at the GEMS event includes an introduction to Scratch, a graphical programming language, the same one we use here at Fox Valley Girls Coding Club to get started with coding. Here are notes from the session for anyone who would like them: HHSGEMS2017 Intro to Coding

Welcome GEMS Girls!!!!

We are happy to welcome the girls attending the 2016 GEMS event at Niles West High School on April 16th and visiting our Web site. We hope you may be inspired to participate in a coding club for girls too!  Or maybe even to be a Founder of a new club in your area.

I am honored to be a presenter at the event as a representative of our Fox Valley Girls Coding Club and of the Illinois Technology Foundation and am very much looking forward to meeting the girls interested in learning about coding as a profession or just as something very fun to do.

We will be doing a hands-on session that includes an introduction to Scratch, a graphical programming language, the same one that we use here at Fox Valley Girls Coding Club to get started with coding. Here are notes from the session if anyone would like them:   Introduction to Scratch

Coding In Our Community

As we work to learn more about the many possibilities that come with learning how to code, our club decided to feature individuals or businesses that we encounter in our own community who have been able to create, improve, streamline or influence through coding.  Here is our first feature of Coding In Our Community.

Featured Coder: Mr. Brian Wis, Music Teacher, St. Charles North High School

Mr. Brian Wis, Music Teacher at St. Charles High School (SCN) in St. Charles, IL has created an app called Note Names that all music students at SCN use.  Note Names is a game that is played in class as well as being used for assessment purposes as part of students’ final exams. The primary purpose and reason for the app design is to help students throughout the music department become more musically literate.

Wis recalls having thought of the idea for the Note Names app for the first time in the 1990s when he was teaching band.  He thought that the kids were having to learn so much at once that if there was a way they could “internalize the names of notes they would be ahead of the game.”

Once Wis decided to make his idea a reality, he became a self taught coder. Originally, he used a language called HyperTalk (a coding language developed by Apple). HyperTalk has now evolved in the form of LiveCode, which is compatible with Windows, Mac, IOS, and Android.

Since its appearance in the app store, Note Names has been downloaded 11,000 times!  Wis says that he is “happy that music teachers are using it.”  He also believes that Note Names has achieved what he thought it would, but as with any functioning app, he has also made changes and updates along the way based on user input.  “Student feedback has definitely helped refine the game,” says Wis.

Along with Note Names, Wis has created other apps for music students such as Rhythm Reactor, Rhythm Tapper, and Interval Mania.  Wis explains how every app is different and “has its own challenges.”  But, he adds, “Once you learn to code one, you can use things that you used in that app to create a new one.”  For example, one feature that all of Wis’s apps have in common is connectivity to Google Docs to record students’ scores and gather their preferences.  Once the code was written for one app, it could easily be plugged into any new app.

According to Wis, “The ability to code gives me the tools I need to help accelerate student learning.  It allows students to do 10 times as much work in the same amount of time that it would take to write out the note names.”

Thank you to Mr. Wis for showing how code can be used to not only help students learn  information more quickly, but for sharing the impact code has had for him as a teacher and musician.