Junior Coding Club @ Ernst Reuter School

In this computer science orientated, educational coding club, held once a week in the afternoon at the Ernst Reuter School in Bad Vilbel, the children learn to use digital tools consciously, self-determinedly and responsibly. It is an important prerequisite for participating in and actively shaping a world increasingly driven by digital technologies.

Level Grade 3 and 4. No previous experience necessary.
Number of participants 8 to 12 per tutor.
Schedule During school time once a week every Monday or every Tuesday continuously. Excluding public holidays.
Time and duration 90 minutes from 2.30 – 4 pm

Impressions from the classroom:

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To register your child for the Junior Coding Club at Ernst-Reuter Schule, first select the school term (1) and the day of the week for the class (2). If you have already registered one child and now want to register a sibling, you can select a second or third child (optional).

After you have selected the school term and weekday, a form for your child’s registration data will appear below.

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Schedule: During school time once a week every Monday or every Tuesday continuously. Excluding public holidays.
Time and duration: 90 minutes from 2.30 – 4 pm
Level Grade 3 and 4. No previous experience necessary.
Number of participants: 8 to 12 per tutor.
Costs: Monthly 70 euros per child. Discounts are available for siblings and for annual payment. Payment is binding for 6 months or for the entire school year.
Trial period: Within the first two lessons, max 2 weeks.
Unsubscribe: At the end of the current school semester.

Product Description

In this computer science-oriented coding club, the children learn to use digital tools consciously, self-determinedly and responsibly. This is an important prerequisite for participating in and actively shaping a world increasingly shaped by digital media.

The topics of security, copyright and data protection are dealt with in a child-friendly manner. Everyone who uses a digital device generates data. We see it as an essential task of media education to sensitise children to these issues and to inform them about the opportunities and risks (e.g. phishing) that young users can be confronted with. 

Practically, we practise respectful and safe communication with others, learn how to obtain information through targeted enquiries, explain the difference between own, self-published and protected works, and what has to be considered when using them. 

Of course, we also deal with important basics about networks and the internet, how computers work, what software, programmes and algorithms are. 

Learning materials, both digital and analogue are available to touch and try out. Suitable for children who have no experience with digital devices as well as those who are already savvy and regularly consume digital media. 

We encourage children to actively take on challenges and solve tasks independently. In the Coding Club, they learn to develop their own strategies for solving problems and experience themselves as capable of action and self-competent.

With this innovative educational offer, we focus on skills for the future and at the same time we guide the children to find a healthier way of dealing with digital media. For a future in which the minds of tomorrow master digitalisation, and not one in which digitalisation masters the children.

We help beginners by promoting motor skills in the use of digital tools. Little geniuses are challenged by abstraction and logic in programming (sequences, loops, events and conditions). Later, in the course of the Coding Club, when enough basic understanding of algorithms and informational thinking has been established, we turn to a real programming language, for example Python, with the students.

All participants are especially trained in the use of digital devices and modern ways of working, such as the use of video conferencing and e-collaboration. The Coding Club creates a space and identification to promote communication, social behaviour and teamwork.

Students can use the Coding Club learning platform from anywhere and at any time to access their learning projects, even with devices from their own household.

Algorithms

We will design Algorithms: Algorithms are recipes or instructions. The quick start guide for baking is an algorithm to make a cake:

  1. Preheat oven
  2. Cream together sugar and butter
  3. Beat in eggs
  4. Add flour and baking powder
  5. Mix all well
  6. Stir in the milk until batter is smooth
  7. Pour batter into cupcakes
  8. Put cupcakes into preheated oven
  9. Bake

To learn more about the importance of Algorithms in our world, we encourage you to watch Kevin Slavin’s presentation at TEDGlobal on “How Algorithms Shape Our World”, where he argues that we’re living in a world designed for and increasingly controlled by — algorithms.

Abstraction: Modeling, Decomposing and generalisation

A key challenge that is addressed in computational thinking is the scale and complexity of a problem.  The main technique used to manage this complexity is abstraction.  Complexity is dealt with by hiding complicated details behind a simple abstraction, or model, of the situation.  For example, a map of a train system is a simple model of a complex reality — but it is a model that contains precisely the information necessary to plan a route from one station to another.

Programming

A computational thinker is not synonymous with a Computer Programmer but programming encourages creativity, logical thought, precision and problem-solving, and helps foster the personal, learning and thinking skills required in the modern school curriculum. Programming gives concrete, tangible form to the idea of “abstraction”, and repeatedly shows how useful it is in any discipline.

Computers

Students will learn the main components that make up a computer system, and how they fit together.
Students will learn what the internet is and the principles underlying how data is exchanged via the internet.

Data Structures

Data Structures are ways of storing “stuff”.  Just as we can put “stuff” in stacks, queues (piles), heaps and buckets – you can do the same thing with data (information). One common example of a data structure, in the real world, is the Pez Dispenser.  Pez uses ‘stacks’ to store and dispense candy. Without structure to all the “stuff” we can’t use it as information to solve other issues.

Project-based Learning

First comes the project, then we have a ‘goal’ that we need to achieve, ‘tasks’ that define the actions that lead to that goal, a ‘Time frame’ that includes starting and ending points, and ‘people’ that perform the tasks during the defined period of time, in order to achieve the goals. Project-based learning is not only highly motivating but also prepares the students for the adult work processes especially in development.

Explorative Learning

Data Structures are ways of storing “stuff”.  Just as we can put “stuff” in stacks, queues (piles), heaps and buckets – you can do the same thing with data (information). One common example of a data structure, in the real world, is the Pez Dispenser.  Pez uses ‘stacks’ to store and dispense candy. Without structure to all the “stuff” we can’t use it as information to solve other issues.

Game-based Learning

Data Structures are ways of storing “stuff”.  Just as we can put “stuff” in stacks, queues (piles), heaps and buckets – you can do the same thing with data (information). One common example of a data structure, in the real world, is the Pez Dispenser.  Pez uses ‘stacks’ to store and dispense candy. Without structure to all the “stuff” we can’t use it as information to solve other issues.

Gamification

Data Structures are ways of storing “stuff”.  Just as we can put “stuff” in stacks, queues (piles), heaps and buckets – you can do the same thing with data (information). One common example of a data structure, in the real world, is the Pez Dispenser.  Pez uses ‘stacks’ to store and dispense candy. Without structure to all the “stuff” we can’t use it as information to solve other issues.

Teamwork and Collaboration

In cooperation, students strengthen their skills and competences together. They learn to work together and take responsibility. By working as a group we can bring many ideas together and come up with something bigger than what a single student would do on her own.
Collaboration often clarifies and spurs students’ thinking. Peers are often better than the teacher in explaining things so kids “get” them. In collaboration team members help each other even with little details, because students are each good at a certain part.

Agile

Data Structures are ways of storing “stuff”.  Just as we can put “stuff” in stacks, queues (piles), heaps and buckets – you can do the same thing with data (information). One common example of a data structure, in the real world, is the Pez Dispenser.  Pez uses ‘stacks’ to store and dispense candy. Without structure to all the “stuff” we can’t use it as information to solve other issues.

Design Thinking and Cycle

Design thinking is a method – or rather a way of thinking – that comes from product development (software and design) and offers many innovative approaches to developing ideas and turning ideas into reality. The method is used to develop a solution for a problem and to approach the solution step by step and in a structured way. We playfully go through the design process from the idea to the solution.

Error Culture / no blame organisation

Data Structures are ways of storing “stuff”.  Just as we can put “stuff” in stacks, queues (piles), heaps and buckets – you can do the same thing with data (information). One common example of a data structure, in the real world, is the Pez Dispenser.  Pez uses ‘stacks’ to store and dispense candy. Without structure to all the “stuff” we can’t use it as information to solve other issues.

Continuous improvement

We don’t stagnate. We learn how to succeed and improve from one point to the other. From each and every task or story that we complete, there is something good to learn. We will learn how to do things better. Every mistake is a potential for a change for the better.

The best summary of skills and competencies fostered is provided by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) of which standards we follow:

  • Empowered Learner
  • Digital Citizen
  • Knowledge Constructor
  • Innovative Designer
  • Computational Thinker
  • Creative Communicator
  • Global Collaborator

The Junior Coding Club’s playful activities incorporate logical and social skills, empower student voice and ensure that learning is a student-driven process. Our curricular is a best practise blend from sources of code.org, Hour-of-Code initiative, Wonder Workshop, Scratch, Hello Ruby, Minecraft Education, CS First and from modern teamwork principles like Design Thinking and Agile Project Management.

We also consider these international and German computer science (CS) teaching standards, such as:

  • Best ICT education-technology tools and learning materials available on the international market. We provide and administrate a wide range of computers, software and robotics kits. If we do not have them, feel free to propose new technologies to us for consideration.
  • Secure and child-friendly virtual classrooms for collaboration and to evaluate students progress.
  • Creation and maintenance of a pupil account, starting early for primary school pupils with licences for learning apps from Microsoft, codeSpark Academy and Minecraft Education.
  • Curated collection of recommended educationally valuable learning apps.
  • Privacy, data protection and compliance by design.
  • For your peace of mind, we include insurance, repairs and improvements as well as taking care of updates for Coding Club materials.
  • Parent meetings and counselling as needed.

We provide your child with carefully selected education apps designed to lern computer science and computational thinking. But more, our children need to learn those things machines cannot do, even in the far future. But how will they be able to make the difference without understanding the machine? Machines should be always human-centric.

Our teaching materials do not only consist of modern computers and learning apps. We use the latest and pedagogically recommended Edutec learning materials, including haptic, tangible teaching objects and learning games. The aim is to gain initial skills in coding, robotics, informational thinking and design thinking. We use the Minecraft Education Edition for a team project or we dedicate ourselves to building robot models from the LEGO® Education WeDo or Spike Prime set. But creative learning experiences are not neglected either. Digital crayons can be used to draw and paint creatively on tablets.

We use the children’s enormous interest in digital media to develop a small project together with the pupils that they want to take forward independently. In addition to project-based work, problem-solving strategies are also important to us, especially its systematic breakdown into smaller parts towards the creation of a solution. We promote learning experiences and motivation to encourage children to work, play and learn independently.

For the Junior Coding Clubs, we use virtual spaces for teaching and teamwork, based on the Azure Cloud and Microsoft Teams. Protected accounts enable the children to take their first steps as digital citizens in a supervised and child-friendly environment – and we place a lot of emphasis on learning the right rules and manners in the teamwork of the Coding Club. The important topics of media literacy such as basics, safety on the internet and social media are addressed and practised during the operation of the learning platform.

Your own computer equipment is only required for the live online courses, which will be attended from home. For activities on site, the Junior Coding Club takes care of all necessary equipment and materials.

Our hardware recommendations for all our programs are:

  • Computer: PC (Windows XP or later) or Mac (OSX 10.7 or later) with at least a 2GHz processor and 4GB of RAM (8GB of RAM is recommended). An iPad no older than 2018 is also possible for certain courses. If you only have an iPad available for the live online course, please ask us.
  • Internet: Broadband internet with at least 1.2Mbps download and 600Kbps upload speeds.
  • Webcam: Either external or built-in (iPads and many laptops have an integrated camera).
  • Microphone and Speakers: We recommend headphones with a built-in microphone. But any microphone and speakers will work fine in a quiet room.

Our free software recommendations for all our programs are:

Information about how to prepare for the activity, especially online from home activities, will be presented right after the booking procedure. You need an account and booking the see onboarding information.

In the case of a school closure or limited on-site lessons, we guarantee the continuation of the coding clubs. The courses are held online, live or synchronously via video conference with the help of the Coding Club learning platform. We are well prepared for this scenario and have a lot of experience with distance learning.

Please read our article about our Covid-19, Pandemic and Lockdown Measures.