Teens, Screens & Family Time: Computer programming with teens
Computer Programming with Teens
Kids today are bombarded with “screens”: computers, xbox, nintendo DS, iPods, television etc. and as parents we are always trying to find the right balance to ensure our kids are playing outdoors, being social and spending time together as a family. This is especially hard when we, the parents, spend time in front of screens ourselves. It’s hard to encourage our kids to un-plug while we are “plugged in” ourselves. In our large family it is further complicated by the fact that our kids range in age from preschool to teenager. Sometimes it’s hard to find ways to connect, especially with the teens.
While we are still striving to un-plug and spend time together as a family, this week we have stumbled upon an activity that uses the screens to bring our older kids together in a family activity we all enjoy: computer programming with teens. Dave has started teaching family programming lessons using Corona SDK. Using the book Corona SDK Mobile Game Development as a guide, Dave taught our first class on Sunday evening. I must say I’m impressed with his set-up. With two of our teens on laptops and one using an old Mac to remotely access his desktop computer, we met around the dining room table and worked through the first chapter of the book. Dave shared his screen with us using an Apple TV / television so everyone could follow along.
We viewed some Corona SDK sample code of a falling crate and learned how to figure out what the code accomplishes in each line by commenting out the code and running it to see what happens. The kids had a great time trying to figure out how to change the code to accomplish new tasks. Dave taught them how to search the documentation to find ways of achieving their goals. Our “homework” assignment was to add our own images and new falling objects to the sample code before the next time we meet so we can have a “show and tell”. Our teenage daughter has already changed her falling crate code to include a cute pony in a ball pit. I turned my crates into bouncing birds falling into a glass cage. (They remind me of weebles. Remember those?) I must confess it was a lot of fun, and really exciting to see them so engaged and proud of their accomplishments. We are all looking forward to our next lesson.
Check out the Crate sample code video.