February 6, 2015
It was our intention to include coding as part of our Girls Make It Day.
While Jill and Leah facilitated the group of 21 participants in creating circuit boxes and books, I worked with instructors on installing the Arduino software in preparation for the coding lesson and ran into a few issues with drivers. I was prepared for the Mac driver problem, but not for the Windows 8 interface. (I'll have to get my hands on a Windows 8 machine to practice). We made our way through the anticipated challenges of installing drivers.
I believe that a gallery of video tutorials for installing Arduino on different type of computers would be helpful and might make it possible for us to ask our participants to install the software ahead of time. The tricky part with that is that this could be a barrier that discourages participants before they attend, since installing the drivers is INDEED the hardest part to getting started with coding in eTextiles.
But the girls were so engaged in the "making" of their 3 books that we chose not to interrupt the flow and let them complete their three projects. They left with a Circuit box, a recycled paper book and switch, and a felt book that used conductive thread.
In our team debrief we will take a closer look at this on the spot decisions and the decision of whether to include code as part of a ONE Day Girls Make IT activity.
I think that we absolutely NEED to move into the concept of CODING early in the game, but is the first day the right session? By doing a short INTRODUCTION to coding on the first day, the girls can leave understanding what CODING is and what it has to do with eTextile. Without a scaffolded opportunity to see CODE at play, they may never come back to a 2nd workshop to learn coding with eTextile. Their preconception of what Coding is might actually cause them to not return for a Day 2 event focused on Coding. Yet by adding a Coding session to the day, are we risking a state of overwhelm.
Perhaps cutting out one of the 'book creation activities"... but which one? This will lead to some great discussion in our Team Meeting next week.