In light of the social distances guidelines imposed by the COVID 19 pandemic, many activities and summer plans had unfortunately been indefinitely postponed or suspended. Seeing that there was an overwhelming number of students interested in participating in our virtual summer robotics programs, the Girls of Steel hosted its first virtual “Introduction to Scratch” workshop, a two-week long program that focused on building the fundamentals of Scratch block programming. 12 Girls of Steel mentors and 58 participants registered to collaborate through Zoom to explore Scratch- learning block programming, creating projects, and enhancing presentation and teamwork skills.
During the first week, the workshops were lecture-based, the main objective being to familiarize the students with the types and functions of each programming block (“events”, “motion”, “looks”, “sounds”, “controls”, “sensing”, “operators”). Each student created an individual Scratch account directly linked to the Girls of Steel Scratch Classroom, where they could submit their projects for feedback from the mentors, as well as explore what their peers were working on. Due to the large turnout of participants, students were divided into three groups, each led by a Girls of Steel student mentor, who was responsible for instructing the lectures and tutorials. Additionally, students were able to practice and apply this knowledge by completing interactive tutorials online via Scratch. Furthermore, during the beginning of each workshop, students collectively reviewed and evaluated themselves upon the information from the lectures learned in the previous workshop through various review games and activities, such as Kahoot and Gimkit. Overall, by the end of the week, students mastered navigating through the Scratch programming environment and the purpose and application of each type of Scratch blocks.
For the second week, students were given the opportunity to apply the information learned during the first week to create group projects with their peers. Students were divided into 11 teams each supervised by a Girls of Steel student mentor; in each Zoom breakout room, they worked together to complete the “animation design” project and the “video game design” project. In the “animation design” project, students programmed a short animation; in the “video game design” project, they designed and coded an interactive game interface. For each project, students also collaborated on a Google slides presentation that described and explained their code. At the end of each project, students regrouped and presented their projects to the other teams and mentors, as well as ran a demonstration of their program.
Seeing the students incorporating their own unique ideas and elements into the program was certainly one of the most memorable moments of this workshop for the mentors. One mentor said: “I did not expect such enthusiasm from the students; despite the physical barriers, it was extremely fulfilling and inspirational to see the kids express such excitement about programming.” We were excited to receive this feedback from one of our students: “I enjoyed this workshop and the mentors; someday, I hope to be a Girls of Steel mentor, too!”
This blog was written by FRC Team 3504 Girls of Steel Robotics. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
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