Providing Meaningful Opportunities for Coding

Blog Post created by teachontario.team on Feb 7, 2018

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By: Lisa Floyd and Steven Floyd


One of the best ways to effectively incorporate coding into your daily routine is to ensure students feel that it is an authentic and meaningful learning experience.


In this task, we suggest having students code the Olympic rings.  The Olympic Games provide us with many opportunities to discuss the science/psychology/love of sport, culture, geography, goal setting, marketing…. there really is no end to the cross-curricular connections that can be made.


For this particular task, we provide you with guided materials (see below) to get students started and also some challenges to raise the ceiling for those who are ready. 


As you incorporate such tasks, you will become more and more comfortable with coding in your classroom, and as your students begin to learn the basics, you will continue to come up with new ideas to incorporate coding in meaningful ways.


The beauty of coding, is there really is no limit to what you can create.  As Mitch Resnick suggests, coding provides wide walls to appeal to all different student interests.


Lisa has included Scratch code for making the Olympic rings, but ideally, you will have students write their own code. You can see that Lisa made her own blocks to organize the code and to be more efficient, but this could be considered an extension.  She did not add some of the other possible extensions which might include the Olympic Fanfare, adding information about what each ring represents, etc.



Depending on the students’ past coding experiences, there is an opportunity here to say “go code the Olympic rings” without giving students much initial assistance… watch as they work together to determine the proper colours, math concepts required to code a circle, how the Cartesian plane on the Scratch stage works, meaning of each ring…individual strengths start to shine through and different skill sets (knowledge of sport, artistic abilities, understanding of math ideas) are valued in projects like this. Effective guided questions can play an important role in drawing out key ideas (What does each colour symbolize?  Why were the rings created?  What are the number of degrees required to code a circle?).


You might opt to share the guided materials with students or parts of them with a scaffolded approach (in the past we’ve printed separate “tips” on cards to give out as required).  A link to a shared doc has been provided so you may make a copy and edit as you see fit.  We consider ourselves Just in Time teachers as we walk around listening to discussions and ready to provide support as required.


Additional Olympic Games Learning and Coding Opportunities


The wonderful thing about using the Olympics Games as a context for coding are the number of connections that can be made to a wide variety of subject areas…


What about having your students:

  • code a map of the world, pinpoint countries involved
  • create a program that keeps track of medal counts
  • code the years the Summer and Winter Games are held
  • code their own opening ceremonies animation – fireworks, country flags
  • code a simulation of a bobsled course (use barriers and movement of sprites)
  • create an interactive poster with makey makey and Scratch highlighting specific countries, history of Olympics, specific sports (see Derek Tangredi’s videos for a how to:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTQD782d-e8&index=73&list=UUEnEUi2Ct1Oldy4SPCY3klw)
  • consider environmental/economic impacts of hosting the games


Guided Materials for Olympic Games Rings:


Link to PDF

Link to Shared Document


Share with us on the Teach Ontario Community in the comment thread below and/or on Twitter (#TeachOntario) how you incorporate coding and the Olympic Games into your own classes.