Teaching code - scratch game design

Back to school: nurturing a new breed of code-crackers and cracking coders

23 Mar 2016

1 min read

We sent our Head of Digital and chief clean code evangelist, Frankie, back to school this January to introduce the pupils of Cairns Primary School to the magic of computer programming. Hoping to inspire future careers in computing science, he spent an hour each week teaching the P7s the basics of code through a series of fun lessons in video game programming.

Back to basics - the abacus was the first machine used for counting and calculating

Using Scratch, a free toolkit from MIT, Frankie helped the kids create their own ‘Pac-Man’ style video game called ‘Mrs Healy and the Haunted Maze’ (if you haven’t guessed, Mrs Healy is their classroom teacher - and Frankie's wife). Using a library of sprite characters and scripts, the children each created their own simple maze game in which the main character navigates towards a goal while avoiding walls and ghosts.

Frankie has the p7 pupils captivated by code!

Although all the children designed the same basic game, the coding software allowed the pupils to be as creative as possible and develop their own unique versions.

Scratch game interface designPupil example 1
Play the game >>>

Scratch game interface design

Pupil example 2
Play the game >>>

Scratch game interface designPupil example 3
Play the game >>>

Like all coders, they quickly discovered that programming doesn’t always work out the first time. Although that can be extremely frustrating, it’s a brilliant way to acquire computational thinking and problem solving skills. Once the kids realised they were able to control the world they had created onscreen, it gave them a real incentive to keep trying until they got it 'right'. That's an important discipline for anyone - no matter what you end up doing for a living.

Children are learning to join command blocks together to write scripts that control objects (sprites) as they move around the maze.

Our future women in tech!

Judging by the enthusiastic feedback, some pupils have discovered that creating video games can be just as exciting as playing them. That's good news because, like many in the tech industry, we believe that coding will soon become an essential 21st century skill. Whether we want to produce the next Mark Zuckerberg or achieve Scotland's aim of being a world-leader in the digital and tech sectors, then we should encourage kids to start coding young - no matter what their career ambitions are.

If you're a recent graduate or student in computer science or digital design, come and meet our digital team at this month's Digital MeetUp Glasgow on 31st March, at SWG3, Finnieston. We'll be dishing out top notch career advice and recruiting talented interns so don't miss out!

#digital #careers #computerprogramming #coding

Written by

Catherine Watson, Digital Marketer at 999 Design

Catherine Watson

Digital Marketer