Gina Gagliano from First Second reached out to ask me to participate in the Secret Coders Blog Tour. Of course I said yes. I love First Second and the great books they publish and Gene Yang & Mike Holmes' Secret Coder Series is a popular one with students. And then it hit me....the challenge for this post is to try out a coding activity and report back. What did I get myself into? Read below for my experience with coding.
Secret Coders: Robots & Repeats
by Gene Luen Yang & Mike Holmes
First Second (October 3, 2017)
Description from GoodReads: Dr. One-Zero has added a new class to Stately Academy's curriculum. But in "Advanced Chemistry," they only teach one lesson: how to make Green Pop! While their classmates are manufacturing this dangerous soda, the Coders uncover a clue that may lead them to Hopper's missing dad. Is it time to use Professor Bee's most powerful weapon: the Turtle of Light?
From graphic novel superstar (and former computer-programming teacher) Gene Luen Yang, comes Robots & Repeats, the fourth volume of Secret Coders. This wildly entertaining series combines logic puzzles and basic coding instruction with a page-turning mystery plot!
Coding Experience: In the first few Secret Coders' books, I read them without trying the coding exercises. Since my only previous coding experience wasn't particularly successful, I was a bit nervous. As a result, I decided to start at the beginning of the book and try several of the coding exercises hoping that they would be easier.
Right from the start, I faced my first challenge. I wasn't particularly successful at downloading the Logo language needed to code. So, I was really thankful that there was an alternate option. Off to create an account with Turtle Academy and try some coding.
After trying out a practice activity on Turtle Academy, I was ready to give a few of the exercises in Robots and Repeats a go. Again I ran into some challenges. A friend of mine, Jen Pino, was fortunately around and helped me figure things out. She would read aloud the code while I typed it in and pressed "run". The first few times we ran into a couple of problems.
With the first attempt at making a staircase, we thought that we just needed to "repeat" the code.
Yep, that wasn't right. The turtle just continued to climb up.
We then realized that we needed to add "repeat 5" to make the first part of the staircase and "repeat 2 [ repeat 5" to make the second half. We were making progress and despite our errors we were having fun experimenting and trying different commands.
Once we learned the initial code, we were able to do the next several codes in the book, like the one above and below.
I can see how this can become a bit addicting. Mistakes were important to learning the codes and not giving up was also important but the best part of the fun came from working with a friend.
For more information about Secret Coders and to learn more about coding, check out the Secret Coders website. Look for all the Secret Coder books at your local bookstore or community library.
Check out all of the books in the series:
About the author:
Gene Luen Yang is the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. He has written and drawn many graphic novels, including American Born Chinese, which was a National Book Award finalist, as well as the winner of the Printz Award and an Eisner Award. His graphic novel set Boxers and Saints won the Los Angeles TimesBook Prize. He has also written for the hit comics Avatar: The Last Airbender and Superman. geneyang.com
About the illustrator:
Mike Holmes has drawn for the comics series Bravest Warriors, Adventure Time, Secret Coders, and the viral art project Mikenesses. His books include the True Story collection, This American Drive, and Shenanigans. He lives with a cat named Ella, who is his best buddy.
Check out the other stops in the blog tour:
10/2 Fuse #8
10/4 Librarian’s Quest
10/6 Kid Lit Frenzy