Q: How much computer skill does my child need to get started?
A: Absolutely none. We’ll take anyone from absolute beginner to someone on the verge of making history.
Q: When can we start?
A: At the next event. Go to our Upcoming Events page, select the next open event near you, and sign up for free tickets for you and your child. We always have a starter curriculum for kids to jump into. We never want to make a kid who wants to learn have to wait to learn.
Q: Do I need to bring a computer?
A: If you can bring your own WiFi capable laptop, we ask that you do. If you cannot, we have a limited supply of laptops that parents can check out by leaving their ID with the laptop coordinator at one of our events. If you’re worried about installing software on your work laptop, 95% of what we do is web-based and requires no software installs.
Q: Can I bring a tablet?
A: Our beginner room can accommodate students with tablets. The Scratch room requires a laptop that can run Flash (Mac, Windows, Linux, or Chromebook). For the Hacker Room or special workshop, it depends on what is being taught.
A tablet can be a good starter, but as a full-fledged development environment it’s not ideal. If you start a child on a tablet and they take to programming, they’ll eventually need a laptop or desktop.
Q: My child wants to move up to the next level. What does she need to to do to qualify?
A: What room a child goes into is totally up to the child. They move on when they’re comfortable. They may even find themselves repeating concepts they learned in the prior room, but applying them to a new way of using the concept.
Q: Do you teach Minecraft Modding
A: We teach the ScriptCraft modding plugin in our Hacker Room as an independent study project..
Q: I’m thinking of buying my child a laptop. Should I get Mac, Windows, Chromebook, or Linux?
Coding is actually not as resource intensive as a lot of other things your child will want to do. If you’re just getting them a utility machine for coding, get a $200 Chromebook or a $300 Windows laptop. It’ll do the job for education, surfing the web, and playing a few games that don’t require heavy graphics performance.
On the other hand, if your kid wants to play Minecraft and Portal with better framerates, you’re going to need to spend closer to $800-$1000. At this point, you’re in mid-range Windows land or entry-level Mac land and you can easily spend twice this much to go high-end. Both Windows and Mac machines are great options with positives and negatives depending on your use, budget, and preferences.
If you’re a techy person, you will have your own point of view here and we have no desire to change it. If you’re not technical, this is where you ask: “what do the people I’d turn to for help run?” CoderDojo is not your support desk. That’s not a service we provide. So when you think about who among your family and friends you’d go to for help, get their advice.
Notice we didn’t recommend Linux. It’s a great OS, but can be tricky. There are not a lot of options for getting Linux pre-installed (though there are a few like System76 or the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition), and because many hardware manufacturers do not release drivers for Linux, getting it running on newer hardware can be a challenge. Before picking hardware to run Linux on, do your research.