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Turning materials from Project Tigr into three physical books to inspire the next generation of computer scientists!
43 backers pledged £1,119 to help bring this project to life.

About

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Project Tigr Books

We here at Project Tigr are dedicated to inspiring children to learn skills in computer sciences, especially more girls. We aim to drive interest and access to computer science skills in all young children by providing a set of materials which are easy to understand and fun to use.

Our materials allow each student’s own creative spark to shine through, allowing any young person to build their own unique things, such as their own emoji. Our materials are additionally much more approachable to start out and continue with. Instructions are chunked into smaller instructions so as not to seem completely overwhelming and keep students fully engaged.

Not enough is currently being done to inspire young people to pursue computer science, especially girls. This is not a particularly new revelation as reported by the BBC, Wired Magazine, and even ourselves.

stages through creating an emoji
stages through creating an emoji

We are here on Kickstarter looking to raise funds to turn some of our materials into physical books. The purpose is to make our work sustainable and more approachable to everyone. At the moment we volunteer the vast majority of our time completely for free. The website, Project Tigr (www.project-tigr.co.uk), where the materials currently reside, will remain completely free to use. We’re not doing this to make money. We’re doing this to encourage the next generation of computer scientists so we can all have fulfilling happy lives!

Although you may share our concern that not enough young people are coming through into tech we realise you may not have a personal use for our materials. We have therefore made it an option to “buy and donate” a book to either your own chosen community centre or ones we know would value and use them. Hopefully encouraging even the most under represented young people to pursue computer science for themselves!

We plan to publish three books based on popular project tigr materials, a website I built with the sole purpose of giving teachers and students creative programming materials.

Something we aspire towards is to give students the tools to do more, not just a railroad of instructions where everyone makes exactly the same thing. In addition, our materials are more relatable to young people’s interests e.g. making pizzas or emojis versus asking them to build a maths system (a current GCSE coursework). We also value our students being able to demonstrate their work to other people easily, which due to our relatable materials means other non-technical people are more likely to understand too!

The books will be printed in A5 to allow people to more easily carry them around. Additionally, they will be spiral bound so books can be left open for a more easier experience while using next to a computer. Finally, they will be in full colour, to further promote creativity and excitement!

computer science juniors 

The first book, computer science juniors, suitable for children aged 8 to 11 of any technical ability. It will comprise of a selection of several different worksheets that we have used with over 40 children with positive results. Children have enjoyed making good progress through each worksheet in a short amount of time and then adding their own unique spin to their project.

possible worksheets titles (may change)
possible worksheets titles (may change)

One popular worksheet that promotes creativity is creating their own digital pizzas using the stamp tool in Scratch. Students can get each topping to be randomly placed somewhere on their pizza, which when combined with loops lead to interesting results!

a 10 year olds digital pizza (with a lot of tomatoes) made in under an hour
a 10 year olds digital pizza (with a lot of tomatoes) made in under an hour

Other worksheets we will include are creating an etch-a-sketch program, their own fictional solar system, and a rock paper scissor robot that either always wins, always loses, or plays randomly.

We’re aiming to include a collection of at least six worksheets in the book. We believe there is real value in having a set of varied worksheets as there will be something inside to interest every child! We’re aiming to retail these books for £15, however they’ll be available to Kickstarter backers for just £13!

code your own interactive emoji

Code your own emoji has been one of the most popular worksheets on Project Tigr! Trialled with over 200 students aged 10+ with amazing results in terms of the complexity of their code and creativity involved.

a collection of emojis students have made
a collection of emojis students have made

Students are helped to make their own interactive emoji out of SVG shapes which they can later make interactable with JavaScript. HTML is how all webpages are built, so a really valuable skill which will continue to be in high demand for many years to come.

We start by giving students the code to get a piece of paper and then draw some basic shapes such as circles and polygons. With this students can get a basic emoji up within minutes. We expand on the basic shapes to include more complicated shapes, such as paths, and colours where their final emoji is limited only by their imagination!

gifs representing the interactivity of students emojis
gifs representing the interactivity of students emojis

In addition to giving students the skills to draw their own emoji, the book will also give them the skills to draw any other things they want, such as app icons, user interfaces, and logos. This book will retail for £10 but available for backers for £8.

code your own animated solar system

This code your own solar system is similar to making your own emoji, where students are helped in creating their own solar system out of SVG shapes, such as circles and polygons. However we then use JavaScript to animate the solar system whereby planets (and even moons) can orbit their very own solar system.

We believe that computer science is much more applicable to all other school subjects - it doesn’t really matter what you’re interested in, there is something for you! This was one of our arguments for science lessons to teach programming, whereby students can create their own animated digital poster instead of a boring paper one.

Computer science is applicable to every other subject - it doesn’t matter what you are interested in - computer science will be beneficial to learn. In most higher education science courses for example, programming is a skill that students are often expected to know without any additional support. we believe giving students this experience early will be invaluable to their futures! This book will retail for £10 but available for backers for £8.

Summary

We’ve worked really hard to make things that young people actually enjoy using to make their own things that they proudly show off to other people (and us). Each of the pictures used on this page has been created by a genuine student of ours!

As mentioned previously, we’re not looking to make a significant profit out of this kickstarter and the books are priced as competitively as we possibly can. We’re simply aiming to make more of our work and efforts sustainable. Our only goal is to help enable as many young people as possible to enjoy and want to pursue computing more!

We already have all the materials ready to go into the books, but actually getting them printed might be more time consuming. With this, we’re hoping to ship the books no later than Christmas 2015, however we’re aiming for much sooner.

Finally, we also intend to release all three books in as many different ebook formats as possible, which will be completely free of any digital rights management to make it more useful for everyone.

Background

Danielle is a mobile developer in Bristol & Bath with over four years experience specialising in Android and iOS apps, and is now looking to freelance her skills. She’s been featured on the front page of Hacker News and the top of GitHub for an Android library she built, Android Bootstrap.

In collaboration with John Reeves she has also co-founded a CiC, Teach Programming in Bath, which aims to inspire the next generation of computer scientists by making programming creative, and therefore more fun and enjoyable. Finally, she has also recently become a lecturer at Bath College teaching Android mobile development to second year undergraduates.

We have been teaching for over three years now with a collection of breakfast clubs, after school clubs, and traditionally taught lessons. Through that we realised that there wasn’t a lot out there in terms of materials to make our lessons fun and engaging. There seems to be a new gadget almost weekly to promote tech to kids, but very little in terms of things they can actually do with them! So Danielle built a website called Project Tigr (www.project-tigr.co.uk). Whereby worksheets can be delivered in chunks so students can more easily digest the information.

All of our worksheet materials are delivered through GitHub’s gist in markdown, which makes them completely open source so anyone could use them for their own purposes.

A benefit of putting the materials online is that we could start collecting analytics (with parental permission of course). The chart below displays the number of visitors to one project (code your own emoji) over February 2015 to June 2015.

chart showing number of visits to code your own emoji over days of the week and hour of the day
chart showing number of visits to code your own emoji over days of the week and hour of the day

Although the vast majority of views were throughout our organised clubs, Wednesday 3pm to 4pm, a larger percentage of students (80%) started accessing the materials directly after clubs sometimes all the way to midnight! Also, traditional teachers noticed that the after school students were sufficiently inspired and making abundant progress educationally to use our online materials during traditional class times on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

In addition to collecting vague statistics about visitor numbers, we also actually ask students using an online questionnaire (again with parental permission). We ask about what things they’ve made, whether they’re currently stuck on anything. We also try to gauge how much students enjoyed, learned, and found the materials useful using a scale of emojis from super sad to super happy.

Through this we have learned that 98% of our students really enjoyed our materials. Interestingly, 93% found the materials useful which when we discarded the data for which Danielle was present the number went to 100%. Implying my students will just ask me what to do next rather than read any information actually given to them!

Why Now?

A lot of people already know that fewer people are choosing to study computer science in higher education, especially girls. We began to look at is where students are currently choosing to spend their time. During last years A-Levels only 4,000 students completed their Computing A-Level vs 44,000 who accomplished an Art A-Level. Furthermore, if we drill down into the gender ratios, we see that 75% of the Art students were female, versus only 7% of the Computing students. We figured there had to be a reason why these numbers were so disproportionate.

We believe this is fundamentally down to a lack of the subjects allowing students to be creative. Many perceive the subject as rote, something where everyone creates exactly the same thing in exactly the same way. However, in our professional computing roles computing is incredibly creative and the vast majority of our time is spent building things that didn’t exist previously. So why isn’t the subject taught like that?

Many people believe the recent UK curriculum changes are addressing the lack of digitally literate young people. However, few people understand that they also made the subject completely optional. Meaning many schools, especially secondary, simply no longer teach it.

We’ve waited a year to see what would happen, and watched numbers interested outside of our full code clubs drop even further. So much so that there were insufficient students to run the optional Computing GCSE at the school I volunteer at this year. We don’t believe we can justifiably sit around and allow more people and miss out hence we are bringing Project Tigr to as many people as possible.

Risks and challenges

We have already been using these materials in classes over the past several years so we have the content all ready to be put into the books. A challenge we have already investigated is where to get a limited run of books (100 of each) printed however we have several options local to us which promise good value for money!

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    CODE YOUR OWN EMOJI BOOK
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    COMPUTER SCIENCE JUNIORS BOOK
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Funding period

- (30 days)