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BCSWomen AppInventor Family Fun day workshop

This page contains links to the materials for the BCSWomen AppInventor Family Fun Day one day workshop. If you came along and would like to get hold of copies of the slides or the handout, or if you're thinking about running a workshop yourself, you're in the right place.

!!Newer!! Now updated for Appinventor 2

!!NEW! Now the handout and slides are available in Welsh !!NEW!!

This page contains The materials in PDF form, The materials in editable form, and an FAQ.

This workshop is here as a "workshop in a box", which means it's ready to be run and all the materials are here. If you want a 1 day (effectively 4 hour long) workshop, which you can use to get kids and their parents coding for mobile phones, you've come to the right place. Here's a video I made, the time we ran it in Leeds...

The materials in PDF form: English

These documents were written in 2012 by Hannah Dee and have been updated for AppInventor 2, in July 2014, by Tilly Horsley

Handout and slides in Welsh

These are in Welsh but not yet updated to AppInventor 2.0. Sorry! I'll get someone on the case.


The materials in editable form

Creative Commons License
The BCSWomen AppInventor family fun day workshop by Hannah Dee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. As these materials are creative commons licensed, you can download and remix them as long as you give us credit. So as well as presenting the PDF versions above, here are editable openoffice files, just in case you want to change anything.

The workshop is loosely based upon one we (Hannah Dee & Karen Petrie) first ran in 2011 as a "fun day" but without the family element. This incarnation, including the cute androids, was created by Hannah Dee for BCSWomen.

If you want to access the old versions, here they are Handout, ODT; Slides, ODP; Handout, PDF; Slides, PDF.

FAQ

If you have any more questions, ask me by email on hmd@hannahdee.eu

How long is the workshop?

It takes about 4 hours; 1h to install and get started, 1h to edit an app, 1.5h to code their own app, half an hour to tidy up and think about what's going on

Could I run it in less time?

If you got people to arrive preinstalled, I think you could probably do it in three hours

How many people do you need helping out?

We've run it with about 50 attendees, a leader/teacher (me) and three helpers. I think we could have managed with one fewer helper but it might have led to people waiting longer when they got stuck. As usual when running coding events, sometimes everyone gets stuck at the same time and the helpers are running around trying to catch up with questions, but for much of the time the helpers are free to drink coffee and chat.

Why a family coding day?

My initial motivation was so that older kids and parents help out younger kids. But it seems that there are other bonuses - lots of parents have approached me after the day saying "I've now got ideas of things to do at home", or "It was really nice to have the opportunity to do this kind of thing with my nephew".

Could I run it just for kids?

I think it'd be fine with just kids, but you'd need to have more helpers. The real advantage of a family programming day is that each group of kids is sat with an adult, who's also paying attention and can answer questions.

Could I run it just for grown-ups?

Yes, and I've run a similar workshop just for adults, it worked really well.

What age range is it appropriate for?

It's fairly open ended in terms of activities; I think the youngest person we've had through was 6 and she managed OK. Younger kids end up making simpler apps, but some of the really little ones took off and got very creative.

Does it work on iPhones?

The workshop uses AppInventor, which only works with Android devices (phones and tablets). So you can't do it with an iPhone, sorry.

What kind of computers do you need?

We've run the event as a "bring your own laptop" day, which worked OK; the installation is a bit of a nightmare but worked in the end. AppInventor runs on Windows, Mac & linux; if you're running the day yourself it probably helps to have some assistants who are good at Windows, and at least one who speaks Mac. Linux nerds tend to be quite good at working it out for themselves (I say this speaking as a certified linux nerd).

I want to run the workshop in a computer room where I control the computers, (for example, a school IT suite). What do I need to do?

The computers need to be able to run Java programs (so you need Java 6 or above, although Java version numbers are not straightforward and on some operating systems it's actually 1.6 and above), and you need an up to date web browser (Chrome and Firefox are good, IE works if it is a very recent version). I suspect you won't be able to set up the software without having administrator priveledges. Here's the AppInventor for Windows setup page on the AppInventor site. Test the software running in the actual room first: we've been bitten by wifi setups where it looks like it works, but actually the blocks editor opens without connecting to the main appinventor window. So you need to test opening an existing project, and editing that project.

What about phone drivers and all that jazz?

You can actually escape all of the phone driver installation headaches if there's decent wifi; using the package for phone option lets you download apps on to your phone via a barcode or a short URL. Which is nice, as phone drivers are a right pain in the, er, elbow.