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News Room > Blog > Learning Scratch and 3D modeling with Adopt a School

Learning Scratch and 3D modeling with Adopt a School

Kamelia Renata G.

We, at Xoomworks Technology, want to help the community we live in, as much as we can. When the guys from the Adopt a School Romania (Adoptăm o Școală) program reached out to us, we were more than delighted to accept their challenge. In three months 57 volunteers from 5 companies taught 140 4th graders programming concepts using Scratch. The Adopt a School program’s purpose is to bring together the schools of Cluj-Napoca, Romania and the business environment in a way that enriches the learning processes in elementary and high schools.

During March – June this year, Xoomworks Technology gathered a team of nine volunteers to teach weekly classes.
Our team was made up of Ionel Vele, who was also the team-lead of the group, Alexandra Horea, Alina NastaceIoan Andrei CimpeanuAndrei-Petru PufOvidiu ChisOana Gherman and Silvia Codoban, together with our colleague Oana Ciherean, who is directly involved in Adopt a School and is one of its founders.

After getting familiar with the creative computing guide ourselves, we taught a class every week and had the opportunity to test our knowledge, teaching skills – and not only – with some very enthusiastic 4th graders from the “Ioan Bob” Elementary School.

Scratch snowman Adopt a School

We introduced the children to some programming notions using the Scratch programing language, a free programming language for children, which is:

  • Best suited for advanced pupils (8th grade -> forward)
  • One needs to implement the animations themselves
  • One needs knowledge of plane geometry
  • It is focused more on geometry, Object Oriented Programming (OOP), and objects in general
  • Besides writing code, one also works with/implements audio, colour, animation, dialogue
  • It has a not-so-appealing interface
  • One can do complex stuff, like create games and implement classic algorithms with visual animations
  • It has a public repository where users can upload their own projects, and download/try projects created by others
  • It is fun and interactive

Code Boogie by Google Adopt a School

As a comparison, the Code Boogie from Santa Tracker, among Google’s free educational games for children, is:

  • Best suited for beginners (1st -> 8th grade)
  • Animations are already implemented
  • The focus is on understanding core/basic programming
  • Mostly focuses on operations/statements/logic
  • Understanding the IF statements, the while/for loops, Pseudocode
  • Has a nicer and more appealing interface
  • One gets to see the animations/code created happen faster and easier

Even though Scratch seems to be for a more advanced level, the activities proposed by the project transformed learning into a more attractive and motivating process. We adapted it to the individual needs of the children from class, including ones with special needs and ones from socially disadvantaged environments.

“I never thought that teaching children is so energy-consuming. One hour at school feels almost like a whole day at work. The kids are very enthusiastic and curios, and noisy and funny, and smart and beautiful. The feeling we have at the end of each class, when we see that everybody understands what we are explaining, is priceless, and so incredibly rewarding.” Silvia Codoban, Marketing Specialist

The children were very excited and we all enjoyed the activities and had a lot of fun at the end of school Game Jam, which was organized by several schools from Cluj-Napoca.

The students from “Ioan Bob” Elementary School demonstrated their competence in Scratch by presenting some very creative and original stories that were carefully put together in their last class. The children teamed up, worked together side by side and the results were amazing!
They created games where the main character would walk through labyrinths, or through haunted forests. The jury had a very difficult task in choosing the winners, therefore, all the participants were named champions.

“Overall it was a nice experience. The kids were very enthuisiatic about learning Scratch.
They really enjoyed the sessions, they learned the basics of computer programming and had a lot of fun creating Scratch applications. Some of them created really amazing apps.
I think the most important thing is that we managed to raise the children’s curiosity about programming and showed them that they can have fun while learing something new.” Ovidiu Chis, .Net Developer

Even though the teaching program ended in June, we didn’t stop our collaboration with Adopt a School!

VR dream house

This November, we invited a few 9th graders to our office to experience the wonderful world of VR. The four 9th graders who are passionate about architecture created some 3D models with Sketchup which they had the occasion to visit with the help of the glasses.
Running some educational applications, the kids had the chance to visit the human body, historical and beautiful locations, and art museums, they played a cool geography trivia game and experimented with mini-games from different domains (math, science, biology, etc.).
At the end of our educational VR session, we played something more exciting, like shooters, roller coasters and longbow archery. One of the girls even had the courage to try a horror game.

Overall, the kids had a really good time during our VR session. They enjoyed this experience and we received positive feedback from Mariana, their Computer Science teacher who is also a member of the Adopt A School program.
As “homework”, we encouraged the kids to start working with Unity/3D modeling and provided them with resources/materials/tutorials, so we can organize another VR session or maybe even a workshop in the near future.

The experience of working with Adopt a School and knowing that we have a direct, positive impact on someone’s life is amazing. We are looking forward to the next VR session and also to next year’s teaching period!

Happy Holidays from Xoomworks Technology

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