Friday August 24 2018, Education Track, C3.4 & C3.5, 14:10 AEST

Kids need conquerable programming challenges. But creating a project that challenges a variety of skill levels is difficult! Using python and the game scissors paper rock we’ll show you how we create all kinds of projects as part of a program designed for engaging kids at all levels in programming.

To engage kids with programming we need to give them the chance to conquer new and interesting programming challenges suitable for their level of experience. Accommodating a range of different experience levels in a group of students is difficult, finding a project that won’t bore some and obliterate others can seem impossible.

Setting completely different projects for “newbies” and “pros” might seem like a better option, but can demoralise “slow Sam” when he realises he can’t keep up with the pros and leave “Fast Fran” with nothing to do when she chooses a project below her level. Having one project that allows Sam and Fran to move between levels easily without having to start from scratch would be ideal.

As part of an organisation providing coding workshops for kids we work with hundreds of children each year. Our aim is to challenge and extend the skills and confidence of every child through fun and authentic programming experiences. Our students range from complete beginners to pros with years of coding practice under their belt. No matter what their level, every child needs to be given the chance to achieve the publicised project for the day. Learn how we take projects like scissors paper rock, cryptography or Markov chains, and turn each into a project suitable for all levels.

This talk will show you how we design a set of “beginner”, “intermediate” and “advanced” versions of the same project by mixing and matching python concepts from variables to object oriented programming. It will show you how we use bonuses and extensions to occupy speedier students at each level, keeping the class together so you can present key concepts to everyone at once.

Watch 'Scissors-Paper-Rock your classroom with differentiated projects' on PyCon AU's YouTube account

Renee Noble

Renee Noble
Girls' Programming Network

Renee is the Director of the Girls’ Programming Network (GPN) and a software engineer at EdTech company Grok Learning.

Renee’s passion is education and community development. Whether she’s writing code to help build the Grok Learning platform, organising the next Girls’ Programming Network workshop, or even teaching a swing dancing class, Renee is there to spread her passion, knowledge and joy to others and encourage them to pass it on.

Renee has been a volunteer with the Girls’ Programming Network for over 5 years. GPN is an organisation that provides free workshops to teach girls how to code in a fun and friendly environment. These “by women for girls” workshops have become extremely popular in recent years, with up to 170 girls attending a single workshop, with even more girls on the waiting list. So when faced with this challenge of more girls wanting to come to GPN than could fit in the building, Renee decided to spread the program around Australia. Renee’s work with GPN now takes her to cities and towns across the country to share the pedagogy, methodology and philosophy of the Girls’ Programming Network to establish new GPN coding communities for women and girls.