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Learning to code at the Apple Camp for children

By Kenny Yeo - 13 Jul 2017

Learning to code at the Apple Camp for children

Apple Camp is a free 3-day course for children that will teach them about coding, programming, composing music, and making movies.

Apple recently started its Apple Camp program for children at its Orchard Road store.

Designed  for kids aged 8 to 12. Apple Camp started on 26 June and will end this Friday on 14 July. It is a free 3-day program designed to teach kids coding, illustration, music composition, and movie-making.

Kids will attend three 90-minute sessions in total and they are: 

  • Coding Games and Programming Robots
  • Creating Characters and Composing Music
  • Stories in Motion with iMovie

Since coding sounded interesting to me, I sat in for the Coding Games and Programming Robots session.

The kids receiving their iPads and Sphero robots.

The session mainly revolved around programming a Sphero SPRK+ robot using the SPRK Lightning Lab app on an iPad to specific points that have been marked out on the floor. 

Kids are asked to complete three missions in increasing order of difficulty with the Sphero SPRK+ robot. 

Getting ready for their first mission.

The first, which is the most simple, is to program the Sphero robot to a point on the floor that is roughly 50cm away. This mission is relatively straightforward and introduces to the children the basics of the app as well as the basics of write code to navigate the Sphero robot.

The first mission requires children to program their Sphero robots to roll to the first blue line in front of them.

The second is significantly harder and it requires kids to write code that will order the robot to move to a point on the floor, pause, and then move to another point farther away, and then u-turn and make its way back.

Children lining up their Sphero robots on the starting line to begin the second mission.

The last, which is the most difficult by far, requires kids to program the robot to navigate a mini-obstacle course (pictured below) and stopping at designated points along the way. This requires a good knowledge of the basic commands and functions of the app as well as some knowledge of geometry as the robot needs to move from side to side to ensure that it stays without the confines of the course. Needless to say, some kids struggled with this last mission.

The last mission requires children to program their Sphero to navigate through this zigzag course and onto a small point (marked by a sticker) at the end.

The trick to completing the last mission is to input the correct bearings for the Sphero to navigate the zigzag course.

The 90 minutes passed quickly and at the end of the session, children were asked to show off their programs. While most could manage the first and second task, the third task proved to be too difficult for some and it was quite amusing to see their Sphero robots rolling about haphazardly and straying out of the course.

It is remarkable how quickly children today are able to pick up on basic coding and programming.

In case you are interested, the Sphero robot is available for purchase from the Apple Store for S$179. And the  SPRK Lightning Lab, which works on both the iPhone and iPad,  is available as a free download from the App Store.

No word on whether Apple Camp will return, but Today at Apple, Apple's worldwide customer engagement initiative, does run special Kid's Hour programs at the Apple Store from time to time. If you are looking for activities to enrol your children in, check out Today at Apple and check the "Kids & Parents" tab.

In the meantime, we will share news of Apple Camp if and when it returns.

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