How I teach STEM Coding
I teach kids how to code. Coding is telling a computer how to do something, step by step.
I had a brand new student, Veda, a bright young 5th grader. Mom offers “She loves minecraft and wants to do mods, but doesn’t know how to begin.” I say great. We can do that, but before we do that let’s learn how to code. I’’m teaching Scratch coding tonight. Have you coded in Scratch before?
I direct her eyes to the projected screen above where a blank Scratch project page is displayed.
I ask her “what is coding? And wait for an answer. I want to know what her sentence structure is like. I want to have an idea of what she knows and how she communicates information.
I continue to wait. She’s hesitant, She doesn’t want to give a wrong answer. Mom looks at her and I say guessing is OK. We’re all here to learn. She offers, “making the computer do stuff”. I say, yes that’s close. And then to drive the point home I grab the nearest object, a USB drive and ask her if she’s up for playing robot. She says yes and I say do you want to be the robot or the robot controller?
She says robot. Great, I reply. So I’m going to instruct you step by step to pick up the USB drive off the table, ok? It’s like Captain may I, you don’t do anything until I ask you to. She nods in agreement. I say pick up your hand, and she grabs the USB drive with her right hand. I correct her and say, no, I didn’t say to do that yet. Let’s try again.. Raise your right hand. Now hold it 3 inches over the USB drive and now reach down to the USB drive. She then grabs the drive.
I say “ I didn’t ask you to grab the drive yet” . “You jumped the gun.”
I say “let’s do this another way”.” I’ll be the robot and you’ll give me step by step instructions, OK?”
She places the USB drive back on the table and says grab the drive, I ask “with which hand?”
She says “Right”, I say “Ok, but how do I pick it up? “
I say remember what I just asked you to do? She says “yes, hold your right hand over the drive about 3 inches. “
She says “now drop your hand to the USB drive”, I comply.
Now pick it up. I ask ‘how” she has to stop and think. Just pick it up. I ask how? I ask her to look at her hand when she picks something up. What happens?
She looks at her hand and watches her fingers contract around the object.. I say yes, that’s right we have been picking things up for years, so it’s automatic, we don’t even think about what we’re doing, but we did give our hand those instructions to wrap our fingers around that object and turn our wrist inward.
“Curl your fingers around the object, until you can feel it tight in your palm”
She’s learning how to code.