An Hour of Code with BrainPOP

 

Learning to code isn’t hard. There, I said it.

It’s no harder than learning to add and subtract. Or a new language. Or a series of dance moves (no, I can’t floss either). Or the rules of punctuation. Or a musical instrument.

But you have to start somewhere, you need to practice, and you need someone to help you along the way (*waves to teachers*).

And you need motivation to keep coding when the coding gets tough (or buggy).

Which is where support events and communities like Computer Science Education Week and Hour of Code can show you the the right path, tools, and skills needed to learn to code.

And this year BrainPOP’s Creative Coding is an official Hour of Code activity!

What is Hour of Code?

The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify "code", to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts.

For 2018 the theme is “What will you Create” which is perfect for BrainPOP students!

Your students can choose a BrainPOP Scratch (block-based) or Vidcode (text-based) project for sixteen different topics across the curriculum, from Martin Luther King Jr. to DNA to Food Chains. All available for FREE until December 31st 2018.

BrainPOP and Hour of Code free topics.png

To choose a project, visit Hour of Code and select BrainPOP from the “Created By” drop-down menu on the left. If your school already subscribes to Creative Coding, log onto BrainPOP and look for the Creative Coding tile on the right side of any topic page for the full coding experience.

Creative Coding Webinar

Join us on Tuesday, November 27th at 18:00 EST/23:00 GMT (if you can’t make it don’t worry it will be recorded and uploaded to the Educator’s blog) to hear how Certified BrainPOP Educator Nay Belaunzarán is successfully using Creative Coding in her classroom. Nay will share ideas for how to integrate coding into your curriculum — a perfect way to gear up for Computer Science Education Week.


Want to know more?

If you would like to add the full Creative Coding package to your current BrainPOP and/or BrainPOP Jr. subscription please let us know and we’ll get right back to you.

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Make a meme! Can you use coding to assess content knowledge?

 
BrainPOP coding to learn about the circulatory system.png

So I made my first video meme today. And learned about the circulatory system while doing it.

By any standards it was about the worst meme ever made (check it out below), but I had so many moments of learning during the process that I'm kind of proud of it.

Welcome to 'Creative Coding' on BrainPOP.com!

Developed with our partner Vidcode, Creative Coding invites students to show what they know about a topic through a variety of coding projects.

It enables students with little or no coding experience to succeed, while those with coding background can take their work to more sophisticated levels.

There are currently 4 different coding projects across 20 different topics available for free on BrainPOP - Meme, Doodle Augmented Reality, Stop Motion Animation, and Newscast.

Each project takes the learner on a journey through coding, but in the context of a curriculum subject.

There will be around 15-20 steps in the instruction panel in the project, and each line of code you add/edit will be reflected in the 'live' view. Take a look at the interface in this walk-through to see what I mean.

In Meme projects, students use JavaScript to embellish a short video with graphics and text. Students will discover that JavaScript is made up of objects that have properties and methods. They will:

  • Program in JavaScript
  • Apply knowledge of JavaScript objects
  • Customise objects by changing their properties
  • Position their memes using the coordinate plane (x-y grid)
  • Apply their knowledge of a BrainPOP topic

Circulatory System Meme Coding Project

My code

In my video meme I picked the video clip 'moby checking pulse' from the movie 'Circulatory systems' (rows 1-2).

Then I overlaid a 'heart' graphic (rows 4-8), followed by the words 'Moby makes my' (rows 10-15) and 'heart beat faster' (rows 17-22).

I positioned each element, changed colours/sizes, and made the heart a little transparent.

All through a coding language of which I had 0% knowledge.

Moby heart rate meme.gif

I tried different things, and failed sometimes, but fixed my mistakes which felt great. There was some guess work on how to position things and how colours and transparencies would look.

But I never felt overwhelmed, nor less than curious about each step.

And I made something with code (go me!) and saved it to my projects folder. So as I get better at coding I can come back and improve my meme.

The value of aligning coding with content learning cannot be underestimated. As a teacher you can assess student subject knowledge, encourage creativity, and support student choice.

Before (and during) coding sessions, ask your students to conduct research using the various materials on BrainPOP and elsewhere, create a storyboard (in Make a Map perhaps?), and work collaboratively with their friends.

What are you waiting for? You could make the next hit meme!