Teaching My Daughter To Code, Part IV: Return of the Daleks

Welcome back, dear readers, to the fourth part of Sophie’s journey of writing a DrWho computer game with Greenfoot and Java.

If you have read the previous parts, then thank you for sticking with us for so long! (If not, you may like to start reading here: Part I, Part II, Part III).

I’ll try to make it short today – it’s been a long day, and it’s getting late. But this programming session I’d like to record took place five days ago, I have only sparse notes, and I’d like to get it down before I forget too much. I have been busy this week, so I haven’t had time to write this up earlier, but there was so much lovely and encouraging feedback on the previous posts that encouraged me to continue writing this up.

Thus, without further delay, on to the next task: Reaching the TARDIS with the energy pellets!
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Teaching My Daughter To Code, Part III: Prepare The TARDIS!

The third part of my endeavours to write a Dr Who computer game with my daughter

If you’re reading this, then you probably already have an idea what this is about: An ongoing project to write a Dr Who-themed computer game with my daughter Sophie, who is 10 years old. (Yes, she’s 10 now – it was her birthday earlier this week!)

This is the third part of this story. In part I we got the Doctor to move, and in part II we added some Daleks. This time, we giving the Doctor something to do, something worthy of the last of the Time Lords: Collecting energy pellets for the TARDIS.

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Teaching My Daughter To Code, Part II: Invasion of the Daleks

Second part of my endeavours to write a computer game with my daughter

A few days ago, I have written about starting to teach my daughter some programming by inventing and implementing a game with Greenfoot and Java. Here’s the second part of that journey.

This time, I had thought a little more in advance about what might be a good thing to tackle next. Putting floors in, so that the Doctor would just walk on those levels (and ladders to go up and down)? Or other moves: jumping, ducking, etc?

I decided the most interesting thing would be to put some opponents in – other actors that you could run away from, and who could catch you. With the Doctor, it’s pretty obvious who that should be: the Daleks! (They are the Doctor’s prime enemy, after all.)

When I came home from work, I suggested this to Sophie. Happily, she agreed.

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Teaching My Daughter To Code

First party of a journey of writing a Doctor Who video game in Java with my 9-year-old daughter.

[Update: part II, part III and part IV of this story are available now.]
[Update 2: Belorussian translation available now, provided by Webhostinggeeks.]

Yesterday, my daughter Sophie asked me to show her how to write a computer game. She is nine. (Well, only a few weeks away from being ten – at this age, a year still matters.) She has never written any code before. Now, there’s a challenge, if I ever saw one.

I am a computer scientist, and one of our projects is Greenfoot – a programming environment designed to teach kids (and older students) to code with Java. So far, that has all been part of my research work. Research into programming education, tool design, etc. I have used Greenfoot with kids (mostly about 15 years old), but more often I do presentations and workshops for teachers.

I have often wondered how low in age you could take Greenfoot. It’s Java, after all, not Logo. 15-year-olds clearly works. But 10 year olds? We don’t know.

So I told Sophie that we’d start making a game tomorrow. That was yesterday. So today was the day. Afterwards, I thought it might be interesting to try to record the process we’re going through — see what happens.

So here is my (hopefully continuing) diary of coding with my daughter… (Our results, live demo and source code, are at the bottom.)

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