What happened during MadLab’s Hour of Code

Posted by Claire Dodd, over 4 years ago

We had a blast running Hour of Code events in December! We trained nearly 50 children (and some mums and dads!) in our Bury and Salford workshops.

Hour of Code is a global movement which reaches tens of millions of children in over 180 countries, set up and run by Every child should have the opportunity to learn computer science. It helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. By starting early, children will have a foundation for success in any 21st-century career path.

Get the Bug for Coding with CodeBug: Bury & Whitefield Libraries

MadLab’s Claire Dodd showed just how easy it is to start coding using CodeBug. CodeBug is a Manchester-born initiative, designed to give children a fun and engaging introduction to drag and drop programming and electronics.

By the end of the hour, everyone had created their very own scrolling name badge, and some had even extended their programs to include a scrolling image! Children also got to take home their CodeBugs, so that they can continue to experiment and learn at home.


Due to a problem with the computers, we unfortunately couldn’t run the session in Ramsbottom Library as planned in the afternoon, but we’re planning on returning in February Half Term for those who missed out!

Computer Science Unplugged: Binary Numbers and My Robotic Friends. MadLab Salford

Mauro Gestoso, MadLab’s newest recruit, ran two activities to teach fundamental computer science concepts through games and without computers.

In Unplugged, children made their own set of binary numbers cards (powers of 2: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16…) to learn how computers store and transmit information in a visual way. By the end of the session they could easily count in binary and encode and decode their own messages – just like computers do. We also covered other forms of binary communication, such as the low and high pitched noises internet modems use, which we called ‘beeps’ and ‘boops’.

My Robotic Friends demonstrated how robots, and computers in general, interpret instructions – all by stacking plastic cups. The children took turns to act as the robot or the programmer, and with their own language consisting of arrows they wrote programs to match different shapes and patterns. By the end of the session they were able to write and interpret instructions in sequential order (pen and paper versions of programs), turn abstract repeating patterns into functions, and debug their code.

The last hour of the day was spent introducing the children to creative programming with the JavaScript library P5.js. They were now ready to understand concepts like functions, loops or syntax, and able to express their ideas in the form of simple games and animations.

One of the parents told us; “I was surprised at how easy and quick the children went from having a crazy idea for a game to actually having a working prototype.”