Computer programming

Students learn programming in four groups. Board Chair Vince Gutschick is the teacher.  He has 58 years of programming experience in Fortran (scientific programming, from mainframes to current laptops), BASIC (for field dataloggers), four Web languages (HTML, PHP, pmwiki, WordPress), and Python.

One group has been learning much on their own in Scratch visual programming, either at scratch.mit.edu or at code.org.  Vince began the Fall 2021 semester with deep background, an overview of how computers work, from hardware to firmware to software to “wetware” (how programmers thrive).

Third-graders are new to programming or have done a bit but are early in their learning about computers.  They work in Scratch visual programming at code.org, learning to solve increasingly interesting and challenging puzzles (characters called sprites need to move and take actions along the way; one sprite draws geometric figures that vary from simple to complicated). We share screens to learn methods of solution.

Students in grades 4-5 have all had experience in Scratch programming. They have moved to scratch.mit.edu, where they create their own projects – defining background, any number of sprites, and code modules for movement, conditional actions, sounds, etec.

Students in grades 6-8, with one 5th-grader, are gaining skills for programming in Python 3.7.  Two students are experienced and three are new to the game. We all use the programming interface colab.research.google.com, which allows coding and execution in the same window for rapid rewards (and ever-critical debugging).  We share screens in Zoom to share insights.