On Saturday we had another CoderDojo event at Zemanta. It was mostly younger children aged 7 to 10, since older kids who don't need parents accompanying them have by now mostly transitioned to CoderDojo at Kiberpipa. For younger kids who have limited reading capabilities and do not learn English yet, we have usually played with Scratch which provides a great visual programming environment that is accessible even to the youngest children. But playing with Scratch month over month eventually becomes boring (at least for mentors), so this time we tried MIT's App Inventor 2. I first heard of MIT's App Inventor last month at QCon when Hannah Dee presented her experience organizing a programming workshop for families. The greatest advantage of App Inventor over Scratch is that App Inventor is targeted towards programming mobile devices. This makes it much more fun since mobile devices include all this funny sensors and interfaces, such as camera, gyroscope, location, and touch, that kids love to play with. The actual programming takes place on a desktop or tablet computer, while the program itself runs on an android phone (iOS unfortunately isn't supported). With the companion mobile app the development is seamless and provides great pairing environment as one kid does coding while the other kid is doing the testing of the application.
App Inventor is a great environment for learning programming that has huge potential. I hope its authors will remove the many bugs that prevent seamless experience and polish many rough edges that makes it hard to use for young kids. If you want to try it yourself you can start with nice tutorial developed by Hannah Dee or a nice Bouncing Ball example.
This was the last CoderDojo event of 2013/14 season at Zemanta, while the CoderDojo at Kiberpipa will go on until late june. You're all welcome to keep coding there, while a new season of CoderDojo at Zemanta will start again in October.