For the younger group I chose to use Scratch to introduce to them the concept of coding. Scratch has a lively, colorful, and engaging interface that lends itself well to individual creativity as well as a strong on-line community via it’s website. It did not disappoint. The boys were engaged and caught on quickly. My biggest challenge was to keep my words out of the way! My introduction strategy is to teach (help them to discover) how the coding blocks function and operate by dissecting and examining the sample programs.
As for the older group, I chose the Alice 3D coding environment. Alice introduces coding by allowing youth to create their own “virtual worlds”. This program is actually used in some colleges as an intro-to-programming class for non-programmers. The boys picked it up quickly. As an instructor (guide), my challenge is to make sure they master the fundamental concepts and to maintain a challenging lesson plan while keeping it lively and fun.