Organizations and Workshops to Support Coding for All Ages
Some educators in the field of computer science have taken up the motto that, “Coding is the new literacy.” Programming languages, the logic used to build tools such as websites and video games, do have similarities with the written word. Once you learn to read and write code, new avenues of understanding and building emerge. Knowledge of programming languages and can turn people from users and consumers to creators. Thankfully, there are several Western MA organizations and spaces which support this “new literacy.”
Holyoke Codes provides the space and opportunity for people of all ages to learn to code in structured as well as self-directed ways. Some workshops focus on specific topics such as robotics, video game creation, app invention, web building and much more. Lab nights, on the other hand, offer unstructured time for participants to work on any project, independently or in groups. People of all ages are welcome to attend lab nights. Visit the Holyoke Codes website for more information and a full calendar. 100 Bigelow Street. Holyoke, MA.
Some local libraries support STEM learning through ongoing or one-time coding workshops. The East Longmeadow Public Library has launched an ongoing Tuesday night coding class, to take place each week at 6pm. The ELPL also periodically hosts “coding parties” for grades three through five. Call or check the library’s online calendar for more information. 413-525-5432. 60 Center Square. East Longmeadow, MA.
For motivated self-teaching learners, check out these Three Programs Kids Can Use to Learn How to Create Video Games.
What is a Makerspace?
Although Makerspaces encompass much more than just a space for technological creativity, they can be a good place for computer programmers to collaborate among themselves or with other makers. Makerspaces are generally open to all aspects of S.T.E.A.M.: science, technology, engineering, art and math. The following makerspaces and meet ups have space and/or technology to support programmers.
The Greenfield Public Library hosts Makerspace workshops about once a month. These workshops are often themed. Check their website to see if any upcoming workshops fall in line with programming topics. Their upcoming meeting on Thursday July 21, 2pm-5pm, will focus on 3D printing. 413-772-1544. 402 Main Street. Greenfield, MA.
Every Tuesday from 3:30-5:30pm, Amherst Media hosts a drop-in group for makers of all ages and experience levels. Whether you’re working on computer programming, working on computer code, Arduino or Raspberry Pi projects, knitting, or just curious, you’re invited to stop by one of their meetings. Part of Amherst Media’s stated mission is to help people who want to either learn through “Doing It Yourself” or “Doing It Together.” 413-259-3300. 246 College Street. Amherst, MA.
Similarly, the Shire City Sanctuary Makerspace invites creative people of all types. I addition to housing a screen printing shop, sewing lab, and commercial kitchen, the space also contains a technology lab and cyber office. This is a great place to bring a group of programmers, or work alongside friends with different skills and interests. 413-236-9600. 40 Melville Street. Pittsfield, MA.
With workshops, makerspaces, and online learning tools, people of all ages have lots of fun opportunities and resources to experiment with coding.