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Coding

Jump-start your coding skills with classes, apps and robotics
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What would you do if you could communicate with computers?

 

Coding unlocks a new world of possibilities. Imagine building websites to bring information and entertainment to people around the world. Or, think about designing software to run the machines that improve our lives. The DNA of the computers and other tools in our lives is made up of code — and it’s something anyone can learn. We mean it. Just stop by the Racine Public Library’s Innovation Lab to get started.

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What is coding?

Coding is, in its simplest terms, writing instructions that tell a machine — like a computer or a robot — what to do and how. When writing these instructions, you use a language like HTML, JavaScript or PHP so that the computer knows how to understand your instructions.

 

It’s also a subset of the broader skill of programming, which is when you design programs such as apps, websites or video games.

 

What is block coding?

 

Block coding is a simplified way to code that works great for beginners. Apps like Blockly translate real code into visual blocks that you can drag and drop together. As a result, you can focus on the concepts of coding instead of trying to navigate or write long strings of text.

 

Due to its simplicity, block coding is the most common concept that we teach in our classes and other programs. You’ll also use block coding a lot if you’re learning with the Innovation Lab’s robots.

How does the library teach coding?

The Racine Public Library’s Innovation Lab is a great place to get started on the basics of coding. At first, we start slightly younger learners off with “block coding” to teach foundational problem-solving and logic. For older or more advanced learners, we can use more complex tools or introduce programming languages like JavaScript.

 

Coding Classes

 

In our classes, the library’s digital services and innovation team introduces beginners to block coding in the Scratch and Scratch Jr. apps.

 

  • Scratch 101 — For fourth through eighth grade. Typically held once or twice a month.
  • Scratch Jr. 101 — For kindergarten through third grade. This class is perfect for beginners who’ve never attempted coding before. Typically held once or twice a month.

To find the next open class, check out our calendar.

 

Coding Software

 

We use apps that anyone can download to a phone or tablet to support the learning process. These apps make it easy to understand and use simple coding concepts.

 

Scratch and Scratch Jr. are apps we recommend to anyone since they don’t require any equipment. Other apps are better to use if you’re in the Innovation Lab or planning to bring home one of our robots. For example, you can use the Osmo app in the library with our tablet accessory and blocks to practice block coding. Or if you’re borrowing a Sphero SPRK+, you’ll want to download the Sphero app to use it with.

 

Coding Tools

 

Tools like our coding toys and robots are a great way to practice while immediately seeing the results. Our collection of tools is also broad enough to suit the different age ranges we teach.

 

Code-a-Pillar, for example, is a caterpillar toy that works by linking segments with instructions on them to control the direction of the caterpillar. This is a great tool for our younger learners.

 

Robots, on the other hand, are better for more advanced or older learners. We have programmable cars, drones, spheres, cubes and more that will take your skills to the next level once you’ve got the basics down. You can even check some of them out from the STEM section of our Beyond Books Collection.

How can I start learning to code at the library?

Learning to code at the library’s Innovation Lab is free and does not require a library card. Currently, our services are designed for people 18 and under. To get started, just stop by during the Innovation Lab’s hours or one of our coding programs.

How can I learn to code from home?

While the supplies in the Innovation Lab can’t be taken home, you can check out books and Beyond Books items that might help! Try checking out the STEM collection of our Beyond Books collection for robots you can take home to practice with. Another option is to borrow instructional books from our shelves or our digital library.

 

You can also keep an eye on our Innovation Lab programs for virtual lessons you can participate in wherever you are.

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