Programming Club

  • Curriculum overview

    Our Intro to JS courses teaches the basics of programming in the JavaScript language, using the ProcessingJS library on top for drawing and animation. That means that we teach all the basic concepts in the language, but our use case for them is visual. For example, when we talk about nested for loops, we demonstrate how we can make a grid of gems on our screen.
    Topics covered, in order:
    • Basic statement syntax
    • Variables
    • Math operators, assignment operators
    • Strings
    • Functions
    • Logic and conditionals
    • Loops
    • Arrays
    • Objects
    • Object-oriented JS

    Materials offered

    Our course is made up of three types of materials:
    • Talk-throughs: These are our approach to videos, the way that we teach new concepts. Like Khan’s videos, they’re around 5 minutes long and teach one concept at a time. We present the code on the left, output on the right, and narrate as we write new code, while the output updates live. The student can pause the talk-through at any point, change the code, and see the new output, which is one way we encourage more interactive learning. The talk-throughs have transcripts for deaf students, and are partially translated into Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
    • Challenges: This is how we assess whether students understand the concept we just taught, and there is one challenge for every talk-through. Each challenge starts off with some code and has a series of steps with instructions and hint code for each step. We analyze their code as they type and offer messages to guide them in the right direction, when we see they’ve made a common mistake. When they complete the steps, they earn points and their progress is logged on their activity dashboard.
    • Projects: The projects are our opportunity to give students to be very creative with the concepts they’ve just learnt. They have a general set of guidelines but students can take them in their own direction. For example, after learning how to make shapes, students do “What’s for Dinner?”, drawing their favorite dinner on a plate using the shape commands. Those projects are peer evaluated from fellow online students (if the student is 13+). Many teachers also like to do their own separate evaluation of projects.
    • Review articles: These are a great way for students to review what they've just learned, both immediately after learning it and later on as a refresher.
    The course currently consists of 40 talk-throughs35 challenges, and 10projects. On average, the talk-throughs are 6 minutes long, the challenges take 5 minutes each to complete, and projects are often completed in 10-40 minutes, depending on how far the student wants to take them. There is thus around 15 hours of curriculum.


    This curriculum and platform works on modern browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE9+). It works on the iPad, but students may find it's not as enjoyable to type on that keypad.
    Do you have non-English speaking students? The curriculum has been mostly translated to Spanish, with interactive subtitles for the talk-throughs (not dubbing). There is partial translation for Portuguese, Hebrew, Polish, and French. If you are able to help with translation, you may be able to sign up as a volunteer translator.
    This curriculum should be usable by deaf students. There is a transcript option available for the talk-throughs, which are the only aspect of the curriculum with audio. Click the gear menu next to the play bar and select "Interactive Transcript". Students can pause if it is going too quickly.