The ongoing blog of the Tomchak family, in Wheaton IL USA

Hour of Code 2015

By on December 13, 2015 in Photo Post, Text Post, Travel with 0 Comments

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Last year I had the idea of taking Andrew to one of the many Hour of Code classes in the area, but found out about it too late. Everywhere I looked classes were already full. If you don’t know what the Hour of Code is, you can find out more at their website. It’s an initiative to promote learning how to write computer code and to get children interested at an early age.

I signed up for an apple store event at one of the downtown Chicago locations and picked one that had a special guest. In this case it was Danny Yaroslavski, creator of the popular coding app for kids called LightBot.

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We started our day having breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s, one of my favorite breakfast spots in the city.

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After that we hopped on the subway and headed to the apple store, which just happens to sit right on top of a subway stop.

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As soon as Danny started talking to the group you could see the kids light up. I think in part because he himself is not much older than a kid and they could relate to him. He talked about how computers not only run the internet, but virtually every aspect of our world.

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He called out Pixar specifically. He pointed out that while Pixar is about creating 3D characters and animation, it’s all done by code written at Pixar. A lot of their software is created in house to help solve specific problems they want to overcome. It was a good tie in and spoke to everyone.

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After that it was all about grabbing an iPad (several were provided to the group) and playing LightBot. The game does not teach actual coding. Rather it teaches concepts, methods and problem solving skills that are part of writing code. Even as an adult, I found it fun and challenging to play at times. It’s more of a brain teaser as you get into the higher levels and have to find more efficient ways to perform the same task. Once these concepts are mastered, learning to actually write code will be easier to pickup.

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After the one hour was done we went out front and took a group photo with everyone in the class and then back inside to look at some of the toys on display. We spent another 90 minutes playing with the toys which were pretty awesome. It’s amazing the level of technology that we take for grated these days.

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We had planned to do a few more things in the city but the day was already half over and we needed to be back by 3pm so we headed back to the car and drove home. On the way back we took a quick detour to check out the Harold Washington Library. A library that’s so big it could probably hold 4 full size copies of the Wheaton library.

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All in all is was a pretty awesome day with Andrew. We never seem to get enough one-on-one time with the kids so when we do it’s pretty special.

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I don’t know if Andrew will be interested in writing code as he grows up, but for now he’s interested in it. If he does end up a coder, he will have a nice jump on what will be a very promising career by the time he is out of high school.

I have a small photo gallery on SmugMug from the days events.

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