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Empowering New Programmers Through Introductory Arduino Workshops

SeaGL 2019

Do you remember the first time you fell in love with programming? The joy that you felt the first time you wrote some code and saw your very first “Hello World”? For some of us it was a BASIC program, for others it was a GeoCities page. Those experiences inspire us to want to learn more and explore the limits of technology. This is the kind of experience that I try to cultivate when organizing introductory programming workshops. Many beginners find learning programming intimidating and it’s our role as teachers to show them that they’re capable and help create an experience that lets them fall in love with programming.

In this talk I’ll discuss some key lessons I’ve learned through my own experiences organizing introductory programming workshops, and give some tips on how to organize your own. I’ll also discuss two introductory workshops I’ve organized, including a particularly successful introductory Arduino workshop* that I gave to a group that had no prior programming experience. This workshop was relatively low effort but had a big impact on those that attended. It’s my hope that everyone can walk away from this talk with the tools and inspiration they need to put on a similar workshop in their own community.

*This particular workshop involved teaching a group of women how to use Arduino to interface with small programmable vibrators. Because of this I will definitely be mentioning the vibrators in my talk, but the talk won’t include any NSFW imagery or language.


Hailee Kenney

Hailee Kenney, & Django Girls PDX

Hailee currently works as a full stack Python developer on healthcare software at a Portland startup called Outside of her day job she is a co-organizer of Django Girls PDX and likes to explore new ways that we can lower the barrier to entry for folks interested in programming. If she’s not doing programming stuff she’s probably tending to her cats or plants or playing some video games.