CoderDojoDC is part of the global CoderDojo movement of free coding clubs for young people.

The claw! Thanks for a great meeting!

Wow! Thanks to everyone who came out for the LittleBits Space Kit and Maryland STEM festival meeting on Nov. 8! There was a great turn out with great energy in the room.

A special thanks to Ginger Butcher for putting together such a great activity demonstrating how to build a grappler claw using LittleBits, and to all the mentors and parents who got involved in helping the kids through the lesson.

Our next activity is the virtual planning meeting for mentors which will take place this Thursday (11/12) at 9pm via Google Hangout. Please see our Meetup site for details on how to join the mentor meeting.

We hope that many of those who came out will not only return for our next regular meeting in two weeks (Nov. 22), but will also check out the Maryland STEM Festival website to find additional Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math-related activities to try over the coming week.

LittleBits Space Kit

Maryland STEM Festival Logo

At our meeting on Sunday, November 8, 2015 (3-5 pm), Ginger Butcher from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center will be joining us to share her experiences working at NASA and the importance of programming and engineering in her career. She is also one of the inventors of the littleBits Space Kit and will lead a littleBits space activity for the group. She's bringing a lot of equipment, so you don't need to have your own littleBits kit to take part.

Please RSVP so that we stay within the capacity of the room. If it looks like we'll fill up the room, please understand that people who have RSVP'd will be given priority. For full details about location and logistics, and to RSVP, please go to the event page on

The littleBits activity does NOT require a laptop. However, depending on your child, they may want to continue working on their Scratch, Twine, Python or other projects for the latter part of the meeting. We're highly encouraging this, and we still plan to have our regular demo time at the end of the meeting. Please encourage your kids to bring programming projects that they've made so that they can share them with others. We'll certainly have a lot of littleBits demos this meeting, but other projects are definitely welcome. This is one of the favorite parts of CoderDojo meetings, so you won't want to miss out!

IMPORTANT: Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. And hey, you may even learn how to program too!

This meeting is part of the Maryland STEM Festival, a statewide effort to provide enriching STEM programming and activities for youth throughout Maryland. Visit the Maryland STEM Festival website to find more STEM-related activities in your area. The festival runs November 6-15, 2015.

ABOUT OUR GROUP: Help kids learn coding skills with a free weekend code club. We're bringing the CoderDojo program of free coding clubs for kids 7-17 to the Washington, DC area. Join up if you're a parent who wants to get their kids involved, a coder who would like to help kids learn, or like a number of our members... you're a parent who codes and wants to do both.

Python Table

Once you've gotten to know core programming concepts in Scratch, a good next step is to try some Python. Python is a great language for new programmers because it is versatile and powerful, yet relatively easy to learn.

There are many great resources for learning Python online. Here are a few to check out:

  4. Python for Kids, by Jason R. Biggs ( some free content available on the No Starch website -- you can also check out a copy from your local library.

Another good way to learn programming is by modifying existing programs. In our Python interest table, we are working on a "flashcard" program that quizzes the user on the state capitals. You can modify download and modify this program from our club Github repository.

Cool CoderDojoDC Animation

Thanks to Bryce Peterson (aka Pecacheu) for making this really cool animation for our club!



Remember Zork from the 80s? Choose-your-own-adventure books? Interested in writing story-like games that your friends can play?

Learn how to combine your story ideas with programming with our introduction to programming interactive fiction. Melissa Ford will show everyone how to get started with Twine, a very simple program that grows with the programmer's abilities.

The introduction will be about fifteen minutes long. Chris Klimas, the inventor of Twine will be joining us as well and helping out as a mentor! After the intro we'll break as normal into groups for further work/play with interactive fiction, Scratch, HTML and Minecraft hacking.

Update: Chris posted to his blog about our meeting.


Happy 2015!

 __  __                                        
/\ \/\ \                                       
\ \ \_\ \     __     _____   _____   __  __    
 \ \  _  \  /'__`\  /\ '__`\/\ '__`\/\ \/\ \   
  \ \ \ \ \/\ \L\.\_\ \ \L\ \ \ \L\ \ \ \_\ \  
   \ \_\ \_\ \__/.\_\\ \ ,__/\ \ ,__/\/`____ \ 
    \/_/\/_/\/__/\/_/ \ \ \/  \ \ \/  `/___/> \
                       \ \_\   \ \_\     /\___/
                        \/_/    \/_/     \/__/ 
   ___       __      _  ______  __     
 /'___`\   /'__`\  /' \/\  ___\/\ \    
/\_\ /\ \ /\ \/\ \/\_, \ \ \__/\ \ \   
\/_/// /__\ \ \ \ \/_/\ \ \___``\ \ \  
   // /_\ \\ \ \_\ \ \ \ \/\ \L\ \ \_\ 
  /\______/ \ \____/  \ \_\ \____/\/\_\
  \/_____/   \/___/    \/_/\/___/  \/_/

Happy New Year from CoderDojoDC! We are looking forward to many fantastic new projects and adventures in coding this year. In addition to our bi-weekly meetups with our regular Minecraft, Inteactive Fiction, and Scratch interest groups, we have the Pawelbot robot project, another visit from the Nao robot, an upcoming App Inventor introduction, continued collaboration with the Codestarter charity that supplies laptops to young coders, and many more great things on the horizon.

We look forward to seeing you at our 2015 meetings!


Hour of Code at 1776

CoderDojo NOVA

Our partner Dojo, CoderDojo NOVA, is hosting an Hour of Code (actually two) at Transit Labs @1776 in DC on 12/14 from 1-3 pm. They've invited us, too. Hope to see you there.

See the meetup for RSVP info and CoderDojo NOVA's Hour of Code site for more details.


Python ASCII Art

            ____          _           ____        _       ____   ____ 
           / ___|___   __| | ___ _ __|  _ \  ___ (_) ___ |  _ \ / ___|
          | |   / _ \ / _` |/ _ \ '__| | | |/ _ \| |/ _ \| | | | |    
          | |__| (_) | (_| |  __/ |  | |_| | (_) | | (_) | |_| | |___ 
           \____\___/ \__,_|\___|_|  |____/ \___// |\___/|____/ \____|
                    _    ____   ____ ___ ___      _         _   
                   / \  / ___| / ___|_ _|_ _|    / \   _ __| |_ 
                  / _ \ \___ \| |    | | | |    / _ \ | '__| __|
                 / ___ \ ___) | |___ | | | |   / ___ \| |  | |_ 
                /_/   \_\____/ \____|___|___| /_/   \_\_|   \__|

At our next meting (Sunday 11/23, signup and full details on Meetup), in addition to our usual tables for Scratch, Minecraft/Scriptcraft, Interactive Fiction with Twine, and Arduinos, we be starting up the Python interest group again with an activity on creating ASCII Art in Python. What is ASCII art? The short answer is that it is a way of creating pictures or art using only the typographical characters on your keyboard. One common modern equivalent would be the emoticons you may have seen in emails or text messages, like this smiley face :-). Another example is the figlet banner above. There were even arcade games created exclusively with typewriter characters (my personal favorite was one called Ladder, which was very similar to Donkey Kong, but with platforms made from equals signs, and barrels made from lowercase letter 'o's. Some additional examples were posted by mentors Dave K. and Frank H. on the mailing list (if you are not a subscriber, we invite you to check it out!). In short, ASCII art was a way of expressing visual creativity before computers had much in the way of graphics capabilities, and even today it can still be a lot of fun.

If you wish to participate in the Python ASCII Art table, please try to install Python on your laptop before the meeting. The latest version of Python 3 is best, but any Python will work. If you have a Mac or Linux machine, you almost certainly have Python already, but if you have Windows you'll need to install it. If you run into difficulties, there will be mentors who can help at the meeting.


RaspberrySTEM is visiting CoderDojoDC


We'll have two main activities at our next Dojo. First, Brian Silverman from RaspberrySTEM will be bringing RaspberrySTEM Creator sets to our meeting and teaching everyone how to use GPIOs, LEDs, and buttons to Raspberry Pis! And, back by popular demand, we'll have more interactive fiction programming. For those who missed our first interactive fiction meeting, we use a program called Twine to write our own choose-your-own adventure web pages. If your son or daughter likes to write, this is a great introduction into computer programming.

See the meetup for more details.


Nao Programming


Thanks to Bryan Hays and everyone who attended our Nao programming meeting. Between dancing and avoiding, the Nao was pretty busy. We'll see if he can come back in the future.