Inviting people over to check something out for the first time is not so challenging; getting them to commit and return time and again is harder. Therefore the trick to the first session was to get everyone comfortable with each other. Doing something hands-on and interactive creates community and builds confidence.
Wendy, the club leader, and I discussed activities that the girls could do at the first meeting, since we did not expect the CS First kit to arrive in time (spoilers, it did, but we already had a plan). I had a bundle of supplies from previous teaching experiences to offer. We used Makey-Makey, an invention kit that turns everyday objects into touchpads and works with the internet. We used bananas, coins and playdo to play online instruments and Tetris. Within moments girls were laughing and trying out creative materials to see if they were conductive.
If buying new materials is cost prohibitive (Makey-Makey Go is $20) then try something like Coding with Cups where groups of students work together and become the programmers and robots to build pyramids of cups.
Next, the girls made Light up Name Tents and practiced first by testing out paper circuits using copper tape, coin cell battery and LED lights. This activity around names brought in creativity and gave everyone a quick success and something tangible to take home.
An added benefit to this activity was that girls were able to share creative ideas and also began to assist each other through technical difficulties. There is a lot of trial and error in coding and this activity was no exception. Not everyone finishes at the same time, but when there is teamwork everyone is still working and succeeding together.
The girls were having so much fun with the activities that there was just no more time to start CS First. Not a bad problem to have. Next time: Introduction to CS First.
Resources found in Blog:
Coding with Cups - includes Lesson Plan in English and Spanish; video
Light up Name Tents Lesson plan - includes Lesson Plan, list of supplies and cost.