“As children create with Scratch, they learn to think creatively, work collaboratively, and reason systematically.” MIT Media Laboratory, Lifelong Kindergarten group
One of the greatest pleasures in what I do is working with young people to create games and animations in Scratch. The Nerd Ninjaz, some as young a 5, have created some incredible (yes I am biased). The project based approach allows young people to move at a speed that is comfortable for them, while using project completion as a success measure instead of how quickly they can grasp a single concept. I challenge them frequently to advance their skills and develop their own game and animations based on what they learn. Coaching them through challenges builds resilience and searching for answers when I don’t have them creates collaborative learning.
Often I’m asked, “What do your Nerd Ninjaz learn or get from the Dojo and from Scratch”. These are just a few of the benefits:
Most Ninjaz will not become coders (professional programmers). What Ninjaz gain is increased confidence in their ability to learn, improve their ability to express their ideas creatively, to think more logically. By 2021, I want to see 10,000 young people from Metro Atlanta with these skills that will have a profound impact on their future and the future of Atlanta. Efforts like Power My Learning's App Challenge and others are helping feed the pipeline. Let's get them there together.
Nerd Ninja Sensei
The Nerd Ninjaz are coordinating an Hour of Code with two elementary schools in Southeast Atlanta, Barak & Michelle Obama Academy and Benteen Elementary, on December 4, 5, & 6, 2017. Anyone and any company passionate about computer science education and careers in tech can be a volunteer. We want volunteers of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels who have a passion for increasing diversity in tech. The Hour of Code has a large variety of tutorials for all ages and skill levels so you don’t need to be an expert to volunteer!
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This fall I’ve been gearing up to do some special things with the Nerd Ninjaz. Fall is the time of year where new programs begin and new faces join the Nerd NInjaz. It’s always exciting to walk into that first day in the Dojo.
This Fall I refreshed what we do to better engage our Ninjaz and raise the bar for projects and sharing. I’ve been at The Study Hall and Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School (ANCS) and The Study Hall for nearly three years working with 2nd - 5th grade Ninjaz. At The Study Hall, we have created digital avatars for 10 Ninjaz that they will incorporate into a Scratch animated short story. At ANCS the current Dojo of 20 has several new faces and some veterans as well. One group of young ladies, Steak46, Sushidog, Mugino, and others is knocking it out of the box with mazes, animations, and puzzles. A group of 3rd grade boys, Burp49, lionking9, sosha2, and others, have formed their own studio and each week add a new game that they have made.
I launched a Family Code Night at the Metropolitan Branch Public Library in Southwest Atlanta. I have wanted to get more active in communities in Southwest Atlanta. I’ve hosted two (2) Family Code Nights and will have two more sessions, November 15 and December 12. These are great opportunities to come out and learn about coding Nerd Ninjaz. The young man to the left came and completed his first project at our second night. I want to reach more youth in Southwest Atlanta by having a Code Dojo at a location near families starting in January.
We have worked with over 1,000 young people in the nearly two years we have been in operation, with nearly a dozen (12) organizations that are our client partners. But we can do much more and reach many more. I’m looking for fresh ideas and even partners who believe that every child can learn to code. Please share your ideas on:
Your ideas, comments, and suggestions are needed to help us get to the next level. I'm looking forward to the beginning of a great community effort.
Nerd Ninja Sensei
A blog for those working to refine the college access pipeline, create more opportunities to nurture future change agents, and mitigate the gaps.