“Experience Something New” is the encompassing theme for this year’s Adelaide Fringe Festival. A variety of events make up the festival’s program featuring mindboggling performances, music, theatre, art and a variety of workshops for adults and children alike. The events aim of encouraging people to, “to take a risk, see something new and maybe even discover the next big thing,” according to festival director Greg Clarke. In honour of the theme “Experience Something New,” I decided to try something I’ve been meaning to try my hand at for a while: coding.
Coding: the “language” necessary for creating computer programs. More specifically, the algorithms that form a sequence of instructions that enables a computer program to function.
Now bear with me, I know the idea of coding traditionally conjures up images of tapping monotonously at a keyboard for hours on end. Up until recently I had the same view, having only dabbled with the practice in a statistics subject at university. Over the last year, however, I have been seeing more and more about the importance of coding. It has been campaigned by many, including Barack Obama, that coding will soon become a necessary skill of the 21st century, up there with learning to read and write. There has been a huge push for young people (particularly young girls) to learn code so they do not get left behind in our rapidly evolving technological world. As I did a little further research, it appears that coding as a “necessary skill” may be a bit of an overstatement, as it is really only required in certain fields of employment. Nevertheless, a movement that inspires young people to embrace science and technology is always a positive and I wanted to give it a go. Here are a few of the websites I used:
Code.org: A non-profit site dedicated to introducing computer programming to compulsory STEM subject taught in US high schools. I chose one of the several ‘Hour of Code’ tutorials, ‘Code with Anna and Elsa.’ Basically I coded sequences that the ‘Frozen” characters then skated around the ice, creating all kinds of snowflake patterns. Very cute and very effective in explaining how code works. What I like about the tutorial is that it had the option of viewing the real code behind the fun. Obviously, the tutorial is aimed for an audience a lot younger than me, but hey I enjoyed it.
Made with Code: Launched by Google in an effort to broaden diversity in the field of computer programming, Made with Code was created to encourage young girls to try their hand at coding projects and to even host “Coding Parties” with their friends. I tried a number of projects including making my own kaleidoscope and mixing up my own music. The site is colourful and would be highly appealing to young girls. The idea of a coding party creating sparkling jewellery would have been something I’d have loved as a kid.
All in all, my opinion on coding has definitely been changed by my trying “something new.” I no longer see coding as a monotonous, lone activity but rather a skill that can be fun to learn (I mean, coding party! Nothing antisocial about that!)
So if you want to get out and try something new… go to the Fringe, or better yet… try coding!
First published on 19th February 2015 on RiAus – Australia’s Science Channel