What do we do in the Dojo each week?
We have several parallel strands:
- developing apps for Android devices with MIT App Inventor
- introduction to programming using Python and pygame
- robotics using Arduino-based robot kits
- python, Linux and networking using Raspberry Pi.
Most projects will have their own websites (links to the right of this page) with links to resources and samples of what the kids produce.
About the technologies
HTML (hypertext markup language) is the language behind web pages. If you want to make your own website, you'll need to learn some HTML. CSS (cascading style sheets) let you make the pages look great.
In the Dojo you can go at your own pace when learning HTML. We use a series of worksheets which break down the learning process into managable chunks. Start off by editing a simple page, end up by creating your own multi-page sites. If you want to learn advanced techniques such as using a web CMS or creating mobile-friendly pages then why not test your mentor!
Before you start it's good idea to figure out how to launch a plain-text editor such as Windows Notepad or Ubuntu gedit. If you've a little more experience you can use a programmer's editor such as Komodo or jEdit. Also, think about what you want to make your website about. If, for example, you want to make it about your Minecraft creations then bring a few screenshots along that you can include in the pages.
Scratch (and HTML5 games using Phaser)
See the Scratch site at http://scratch.coderdojobray.com.
Python - Programming Language
If you (or your child) are planning to attend the Python stream, it will help a lot if you can download (& install where necessary) the following. How To videos are available at http://inventwithpython.com/videos/
- The Python Interpreter - http://python.org/download/ - please download & install version 3.3.1 for your OS
- Pygame Library - http://pygame.org/download.shtml - download & run the installer (not the source code) version 1.9.1 for your OS
- eBook "Invent your own computer games with Python" - download the PDF from http://inventwithpython.com/IYOCGwP_book1.pdf
This former Google project now run by MIT makes it easier to program apps for Android phones: more at http://appinventor.mit.edu/explore/.
An Arduino is a small computer that will interact easily with the real world. That is, it can operate lights, motors, loudspeakers and other equipment with little or no need for additional electronics. Likewise, it can receive input from switches, light detectors and lots of other sensors. It is easily programmable and most importantly, cheap. This means that it is practical to use Arduinos to build simple robots and to automate all sorts of things around the house.
Working with the Arduino is made easier by the availability of special boards called 'Shields'. These can be plugged directly into the Arduino board Lego-fashion and add features such as WiFi, GPS and even speech recognition to the Arduino.
The Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video.