This month’s [Tuesday special because of the bank holiday] event is about fun ways to introduce people to programming.
We’re delighted to announce that Dr Sam Aaron will be here to talk about his recent work on Sonic Pi. Sam did his PhD in Newcastle a few years back, during which he founded the local Ruby group. Exploring the importance of creativity in programming is a key element in Sam’s work. A big part of this is “live coding”, as we’ll see in a musical performance.
Sonic Pi is a project supported by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, aiming to encourage programming via music on the Raspberry Pi. People can build up interesting compositions by mixing together blocks of code and effects. The project has also produced a programme of work so it’s ready for classroom use. It’s a great addition to the options for new programmers (and the less new!).
Then there’s Minecraft. Mention that word to most school-age children and you instantly get their attention. (Try it, now.) Minecraft is a game, but it’s much more than that. It’s a great way to get people of all ages thinking about design and mechanisms. In multi-player mode, it encourages communication and collaboration. And it also enables programmers to shape the game itself.
The free Raspberry Pi version allows remote control via a simple text API, allowing you to write programs in various languages (even in Scratch) to extend the gameplay. The desktop versions allow various 3rd party add-ons or “mods” which provide significant new functionality, including embedding of mini-languages for further extensions. So, plenty of ways for beginners to get their toes wet. Another Dr (Paul Callaghan) will give an overview of the options, give a demo or two, and talk about what it means for learning – and for getting his kids to do something useful over the holidays.