Programming seems exceedingly difficult, especially for children. But with Hedy, learning to program is made as easy and fun as possible and it can be used in multiple languages. Hedy is a new way of teaching a programming language to children. Hedy starts with the simplest programming syntax without elements such as brackets, quotes or indentation. The syntax will change at each level until the user is programming with Python syntax. Because Hedy is designed to be used by children, the various levels are meant to be entertaining and interesting for this target group. Hedy is far from finished and there are many expansions and improvements possible. Think of new challenges and games or making previous levels more interactive and appealing. A few new additions of Hedy implemented by our team are the use of interactive keys and buttons. Using simple syntax, the user can now link code to a key on the computer or a self-created button that appears on the screen, so that the code only executes by pressing that key of button. For example, it is possible to move a turtle on the screen by mapping operations like “going forward” or “turning left” to keys of your computer. Our team also implemented a new adventure ‘Press it!’ to the program where children can use this new press feature in an interactive but straightforward way. This adventure goes along with all other adventures of Hedy and has some overlap to avoid overloading the children with new programming syntax. By adding these new visual and interactive features we hope and expect children to enjoy Hedy even more and see a more practical side of programming!
Our client during this project was Felienne Hermans (and the development team of Hedy), founder and developer of Hedy and a former associate professor at the University of Leiden. At the start of this project, it was not very clear what the final product should be. There was one thing that had to be implemented anyway and that was the possibility of using Pygame package in Hedy. Besides this fixed goal, Felienne was open to our own creative ideas to use Pygame in adventures of the website. Felienne has been actively involved with our implementations throughout the project. This ensured smooth communication between us and the client. It also ensured the satisfaction of the client.
Our team is composed of 7 members with a diverse set of backgrounds and expertise; 4 Computer Science students, an IT & Economics student, a Computer Science and Mathematics student and a pre-master student with a degree in Applied Mathematics. Because some members of the team had more experience with large group projects or projects with large codebases, we as a team struggled a bit in the beginning with fair distribution of tasks. However, the further we were in the project, the better we could divide the tasks and the workload. We learned how to handle bigger problems and divide them into smaller ones, so that the whole team was able to tackle these problems. We, as a team, are proud of what we accomplished. Especially since we did not know each other before we started this course. Overcoming the challenge of finding time to have a meeting every single team member could attend, and finding time and space to tackle any problem, project related or personal, is extremely rewarding to us.