Education Technology

Texas Instruments Brings Its Hands-On Coding Workshops to ShadOnline

Posted 08/24/2020 by TI Staff

Over the past month, students have seen games, light sequences, scales and even familiar songs come to life during ShadOnline.

Teacher participating in virtual workshop
Hundreds of ShadOnline participants solved coding problems virtually during Texas Instruments’ innovative workshops.

Whether it was running a program perfectly or seeing flashing lights match their line of code, hundreds of Shads took on coding workshops from Texas Instruments (TI) and saw results in real time. For three years, TI has challenged Shads with unique coding problems, but this time, we had new obstacles: figuring out how to take our hands-on, in-person workshops online. “It’s incredible to see how this partnership was able to overcome those challenges and provide students all over Canada with the opportunity to experience coding and help students see how STEM comes to life,” said Peter Balyta, president, Texas Instruments Education Technology.

Like previous years, TI instructors led collaborative coding sessions using TI software and technology. But this year, instead of using a graphing calculator, Shads were equipped with a perpetual license of the TI-Nspire™ CX Student Software, which will be updated with Python this fall. TI also mailed out their TI-Innovator™ Hub with TI LaunchPad™ Board, which allowed Shads to code lights in different colors and play with varying frequencies of sound.

These sessions were held in virtual classrooms, where instructors could interact with Shads over video or through the chat feature. In the first coding workshop, TI instructors challenged Shads to solve lines of code for a counting game. “It was really fun and kind of challenging at first, but we were all helping each other so it was easy to go through it,” said Shad Emili Bykovsky, who’s from Cornwall, Prince Edward Island. Although Bykovsky came to the workshops with previous coding experience, she liked how she was able to take on challenges even after the session was over.

Instructors interacting with Shads over video or through the chat feature.
Students worked together to start solving the Rock, Paper, Scissors coding challenge.

Shads were encouraged by TI instructors to finish coding a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors — or if they were up for it, Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock. “I actually played against the computer several times during the weekend. It’s really entertaining,” said Bykovsky.

Shad Victoria Sephton liked that she was able to combine her passion for coding and her love of music, proving that coding isn’t always just about the numbers. “The lights were really fun to turn on, but I’m also musical myself so I like to play around with it. I was just figuring out how to play little tunes which was super fun,” said Sephton, who’s from Stouffville, Ontario.

Unlike Sephton or Bykovsky, some Shads came to the workshops with little or no coding experience, being offered an introduction to one of the most in-demand skills for the future. “It’s so useful. Even if it’s just basic, starting out with Texas Instruments, it’s a really great way for people to find their interests,” said Sephton. “If you don’t try, then you’ll never know.”

With the government of Ontario’s announcement to incorporate coding into elementary classrooms, it’s evident more than ever that coding should be an essential part of learning. “I really would like to see coding become a third language for all students,” said Peter Balyta. “That type of thinking — computational thinking, algorithmic thinking, problem-solving — will help kids with whatever challenges they face in school and in life.”