By Danica Chen, Del Norte High School
On November 13, 2016, the AGSS held its second workshop in partnership with Coding The Future: Python Programming With Technical Turtles, designed to teach girls from third to fifth grade how to program in Python. A total of 25 girls showed up from 23 schools. Turtles were the theme of this workshop–not only did the girls learned how to use Python by coding digital turtles to draw various shapes and patterns, they earned cute turtle erasers as rewards for answering questions correctly.
“Programming turtles is a cool way to learn how to code and use math,” Sophia says. She had gone to a few of AGSS’s previous programming-related events and was excited to learn again.
The workshop opened with a short PowerPoint about the basics of programming, interspersed with trivia that gave the girls chances to win prizes. Then, the coding began: the girls made their first attempt at coding while the knowledgeable AGSS team assisted those who needed help. In a few minutes, though, it seemed most of the girls had gotten a hang of it. Within minutes, the girls were experimenting with code, changing their turtle’s name and color. The few girls who still needed help asked the girls sitting next to them, who gladly obliged.
One of the girls who helped was Ava T. Though this was one of her first AGSS events, she knew she would enjoy it due to her love of programming.
“I already really like coding and I love Python because I was taking a coding academy class, so this workshop is really fun,” she said.
After they settled on an appropriate color scheme and name (most commonly, “Bob”), the girls taught their turtles to move, starting with straight lines and working towards shapes like triangles or stars. The first person to make something was Gizem, who designed a green heart. Samiksha was the first to make a triangle, earning two turtle erasers for her achievement.
“Since the triangle is made up of 180 degrees total, I knew I had to make three 60 degree angles and turn right three times,” Samiksha explained. “Simple.”
After the girls were done coding, they took a ten minute break, during which they ate cookies and bananas provided by the AGSS. During this time, I asked Ava B. how she felt about the event. Though she confessed initially went only at her parents urging, she said that over time, she had changed her time.
“This workshop was fun because I got to type whatever I want and I got to pick different colors,” Ava B. remarked, mouth full of chocolate chip cookie.
The event ended with a round of turtle-themed Jeopardy as the girls split into teams and vied for points. The topics ranged from questions about programming and the names of famous cartoon turtles. In the end, the team named the Fab Five won the round, winning 2200 points. Even so, all the girls were invited to select a prize.
In the end, all the girls came away with turtle erasers, good memories, and more knowledge about programming, thanks to the help of AGSS and Coding the Future.