On the afternoon of Saturday, September 10th, with mini cupcakes, teddy grahams, sugary sweets, and warm teapots in hand, we celebrated our first Girl Develop It Ottawa event with 23 attendees in total.
Thanks to everyone that came out. Special shout-outs to all our amazing assistants, Scott Annan for letting us use the Mercury Grove space, and Shanti Teas for offering amazing loose leaf teas for everyone to enjoy! We’re humbled to have such local support and encouragement.
For our first event, instead of doing a long intensive course, we decided to offer a short 3-hour special event. Since Gail already had experience teaching Scratch, we decided that it would be the perfect introduction. Scratch is an easy platform to setup and run, and provides several code samples to play with. The user interface is great for beginners to learn basic programming concepts by clicking and dragging objects, and testing the results right away.
The majority of our students had little to no coding experience aside from exposure to basic HTML, but by the end of the session they were diving right into booleans, variables, if-statements, loops, and action listeners. Learn more about Gail’s Scratch workshop.
We knew it would be vital to create a welcoming environment where students could have fun while learning programming concepts. Gail did such a great job teaching everyone; she’s so naturally enthusiastic and energetic that she made everyone feel comfortable and at ease. After each mini exercise, I was so proud to hear laughter and cheers of excitement when students got their programs running!
Some important lessons learnt:
Find ways to best use the Assistants and get them more involved:
- They are there because they want to help out! Don’t be afraid to ask for help and offer more direction and encouragement.
- This also ties in with the next point…
Pay attention to the layout of the room:
- We tried to best plan and layout the space to maximize learning experience ahead of time, but due to limited resources it became quite the task. For our next events, this is something we will definitely pay more attention to when choosing a space.
- After speaking with Heather Payne from Ladies Learning Code, we agree that ideally it would be great to have students seated around several tables with an assistant seated at each group. This would give them the opportunity to chat among each other and ask questions as they complete each mini exercise.
We have some great ideas for the next workshop already, details to be announced shortly. Hope to see you at our next event!