For example, a student might want to build a game to play with their friends but doesn’t yet have the skill to build it from scratch. Our Intentional Recipes provide step-by-step guides for building all kinds of games (and other cool items). It’s a bit like following Lego instructions to build a treehouse that gives you familiarity with how the blocks fit together, so that you can later build your own creations.
We emphasize fun and discovery in our curriculum. Each lesson contains high-interest content for kids, such as video games, social media, mobile apps, and robot automation. We use proprietary “recipes” which are step-by-step guides that give students a thorough understanding of the effect of each line of code until they are capable of writing it from scratch. Each recipe has a learning goal, but the students are usually too excited about the end result to realize that they are learning complex programming concepts.
Logic, loops, variables
Students use professional programming tools starting on their first day at The League. We write user-interactive programs and games using Eclipse. We use Makey Makey to interact with the world in unusual ways, draw with TKP’s Tortoise, and create code-based animations with Processing. By focusing on a small number of concepts, students end this level with mastery of logic, loops and variables, and with a firm foundation in problem solving and logical thinking.
Objects & methods
We jump right into object oriented programming in Level 1. This level is challenging because students learn to understand classes, methods and objects which are big ideas for small heads. We make this fun by building graphical user interfaces with Java’s Swing API and by the end of this level you are able to make your own interactive applications at home.
At level 2, it’s time to put your coding skills to work. We break our classes into smaller groups (2 or 3 students per mentor) so that kids can build a project of their own design. Depending on the project, this may take 2-4 months. This comes with a whole new set of challenges since the code is built upon week after week. Students need to learn to write clean and readable code. During the process, we perform UX testing and use that feedback to improve the user interface. The students use GitHub to publish their work. All the github portfolios you see on the students page contain code they wrote themselves from scratch. This level ends with a presentation of the project, a demo to family and friends and a pizza party to celebrate their accomplishments.
Data structures & algorithms
All serious programmers need to be data virtuosos. In Level 3 students learn to master lists, stacks & hashmaps and to implement basic sorting and searching algorithms. It’s the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship with unit testing and JUnit. Knowing this stuff gives you the ability to write more stateful and complex games, and naturally, we try out this new knowledge on some maze-navigating robots. LEAGUE students test out of this level using a mid-term exam for first year students of computer science at Stanford University.
Advanced object oriented programming
Some of the higher forms of coding have frightening names like polymorphism, abstraction, inheritance and encapsulation. Believe it or not, our students will own these concepts in Level 4.
AP Computer Science exam prep
9 out of 10 of our students pass the computer science AP exam with a score of 4 or greater. We’ve even had a student pass the AP exam in the 7th grade. The thorough understanding of coding learned in levels 0-4 make passing the AP a breeze. The hardest thing we have to teach in Level 5 is how to write code on paper for the first time.
The skill of programming is a powerful tool that can be used to change the world. That’s why in Level 6 our students team up and spend 3-4 months working on a project that impacts society for the good. These are usually mobile or web apps. Some of our students have won prizes competing against adult teams at civic hackathons with these apps.
Learn to craft code like a pro! This level takes you from code monkey to software engineer with topics such as refactoring, clean code, test-driven development, design patterns, techniques for working with legacy code, and how to be an Eclipse ninja. This course has been developed in collaboration with some the best and most experienced programmers in San Diego. This is stuff they don’t even teach you in college!
Oracle Java certification
In level 8, you’ll study for professional certification as a Java programmer. The “Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 7 Programmer” exam is the industry standard for Java developers.