Loyola Stars

Loyola University Stars Leadership Corps Chapter

Oakton and Have Dreams

11/13 - onwards Have Dreams

I have found a good program that automatically converts from C# to Unityscript without requiring any modification to the original code. This is a breakthrough as it will save Have Dreams from having to pay for either a program or someone’s service to do this. I testing out this one code snipped that would compile with the original and new code in Unity.

After this, I have not managed to do much beyond brainstorming and narrowing down what should and should not be done for the game tutorial. I will continue working towards a solution to make the coding process easier which will cut down on the time it will take to create the tutorials. One of the workers at Have Dreams left the organization and my supervisor got busy with work outside of Have Dreams, so the project reached a slight bottleneck from both ends.

11/14/13 + 11/21/13 + 12/03/13

Not much has changed since my first three meeting with A. We did, however, decide to start meeting online as opposed to in person. We both decided that this is better after our first Google Doc session where we would communicate via the document. This way A. could look back on our conversation in the future for reference. It seems that she has been using some of Oakton’s resources for help with assignments and so programming was only one of several parts of our discussions. She was overall more interested in learning about how to succeed in computer science in general in terms of courses, job experience, and participation in various activities. I gave her honest opinions on her ideas and let her know whenever I felt that my own opinion was biased enough as to where a second opinion from someone else would be beneficial. This experience seems to have been positive for her and it has inspired me to apply some of the mentoring techniques on my younger cousins who are currently in high school and will, like me and A., become first generation college students. She will hopefully use the upcoming break to continue practicing either programming or any of several skillsets I suggested. I have offered myself as an ongoing resource in case she wants to pick up on anything from building a server or learning linux. Although I’m not proficient in everything, I know where to find adequate resources.

Steinmetz 11/5 - 11/07

by alexthornburg1 December 4, 2013

We have worked on HTML schedules for the rest of my time. Most of the kids have them done. I can’t express how much fun I had at Steinmetz. I told everyone I was leaving and it was my last day and I got a few applause. Ms. Ward is phenomenal to work with she cares and is exactly what a student needs. Loyola STARS participants should strongly consider this assignment in the future. The trek is undoubtedly worth it.

Steinmetz 10/29

by alexthornburg1 December 4, 2013

Today we had the students draft up their school schedules in an html document. This was one of my favorite assignments as the students finally created something useful. This has been a wonderful ride with Steinmetz 4th and 5th period. I have had a lot of fun. We had a few issues with keyboards. Someone preyed up the keys and switched them all around. The victim was a non-native english speaker. That wasn’t funny.  

Steinmetz 10/24

by alexthornburg1 December 4, 2013

I made 4 new scratch assignments for the kids this week. This is really helpful for me to write up thorough instructions. It will surely benefit me in the future. It seems I am learning just as much from the students as they are learning from me. Like they say, as people teach children about life, the children sometimes end up teaching us what life is all about.

Steinmetz 10/22 Loops!

by alexthornburg1 December 4, 2013

Today I drafted up a few new scratch assignments that use loops and other control features. This should give the students a good feel for the entirety of programming from web design and computer science. The assignment was cool. The students where to make ghost clones move around the screen when the space bar is pressed.

Have Dreams and Oakton


On my first day at Have Dreams, I mostly just observed the kids and teens to get a better understanding of who I’m working with. Before agreeing to help out over there, I only ever had anything to do with someone who has a form of autism once and that was a student with asperger’s back in high school. I knew a bit about the disability through reading the autobiography “Look Me in the Eye.” However, observing multiple people with it is different since you see how autism and individuality mix.


After making all necessary arrangements, I happened to begin both of my tasks days apart even though it was a bit tricky to set things up at first. At Oakton, the student I am tutoring led the way. Our supervisor worked through her by giving suggestions for what to discuss during our meetings. The first day we went through some paperwork from Oakton’s end included goals for our meetings. Then we discussed where each of us currently stand in programming. Since she is new, I decided to draw on all my experiences and gave suggestions for what to do and what to avoid. We created a shared doc which contains mostly links to sites like Python Tutor, The New Boston, Khan Academy, Coding Bat, forums, etc. I suggested picking up on some python if java ever becomes unbearably frustrating as the syntax is not as harsh to a beginner. Afterwards we discussed career options, the job market, and how to decide what your calling is. We went over the LinkedIn profiles of several people I know or know of that work in a computer-centered field and discussed what they did to get to where they are today. I told her that the only way to know if a certain path is right is to explore it through coursework or some other form of exposure.


On my second meeting at Have Dreams I observed a little but mostly did some research on possible Unity projects since this would be a better use of my time then helping with Scratch since there was more than enough staff at hand.


During my second meeting at Oakton, we continued the discussion from last time and also discussed possible colleges that would be good choices to transfer to. We mostly discussed what to look for when choosing a computer science program and I have suggested asking people that have graduated for their opinions. The student had an extra credit assignment (a password generator) that we went over. I wrote up some pseudo code that I made up and we went over the process of planning a program logically before actually trying to code it. Afterwards she said she feels confident that she can figure out how to complete the assignment on her own.


For the third meeting, Kathryn decided to meet up with me at a coffee shop so that we could plan things out and discuss each of our findings. We pointed out the pros and cons of Boo (based on python), C#, and Unityscript (based on JavaScript). We reasoned that it would benefit the students to choose one and stick with it. We decided against Boo and debated between C# and JavaScript. I personally thought C# is the better choice as it is more practical, widely used, and has much more resources outside of the Unity community. However, we decided to go with JavaScript since there are some particularly good tutorial resources available that are in that language. I will attempt to convert some code I found in C# into JavaScript but Have Dreams is more than willing to pay someone to convert if this proves to be difficult (I have no experience in either language). If that route is chosen, I will help make the decision regarding what reasonable rates are. As of right now, my task is to attempt to convert 2 small C# files into JavaScript. My main task is to figure out how to make a house created with sketch-up blow up.


A. did not have any class material to go over so we spent most of the time discussing education and career goals. She is concerned about falling behind in terms of figuring out what she wants to do. I assured her that this is natural and that she is not behind by much. I explained to her my own thoughts throughout the last three years. I urged her to try to get any kind of computer related job as soon as possible so that she start acquiring general applied knowledge and build her resume. I suggested taking electives based on what she feels lured towards.


I spent much time trying to find games in JavaScript or good ways to quickly convert C# to JavaScript that could be used. I wanted to get a full scope of what resources are available. This is an ongoing work in progress until I find something concrete.

Day 11 (10/22) Steinmetz Web Design

by alexthornburg1 October 23, 2013

Today I worked again on a new scratch assignment. I introduced them to the control section which is basically a simple loop. The goal at the end of the assignment is to make the sprite look like its running. Some of the kids are still working on the assignments from last week so I helped them get caught up. Unfortunately, scratch’s website doesn’t work very well on Internet Explorer which causes the occasional headache when a student tries to open it and gets confused as to why nothing is working. This is a bug that they should try to fix. The class is still going well. Morale is high because Steinmetz had homecoming last week. Music in the hallways, it reminds me of my time at high school, which wasn’t so long ago.

Day 10 (10/17) Steinmetz Web Design

by alexthornburg1 October 23, 2013

We are going to keep working on scratch as kids filter in and out of the class. The teachers are still getting their rosters set so we aren’t going to start with the book until all the students have settled in. I think a lot of students have really started to enjoy working with scratch - its a pretty cool teaching tool. Once we finish up we should get back into some more difficult web design stuff such as file structures and embedded images. I really enjoy working at the school. I get along with everyone and am getting to know the kids a lot better. Some of the better students seem to enjoy experimenting with scratch and I think they will be ready to pickup Java next week - ok maybe not. The kids are still doing really well though, and it seems like they really enjoy it. I have to grade their assignments this time so I got close to 90 emails to go through and check. Wish me luck!

Alex Thornburg

Day 9 (10/15) Steinmetz College Prep - Teaching!

by alexthornburg1 October 15, 2013

Today I stood in front of class and gave a lecture on scratch and how it is similar to computer programming. The kids worked on my assignment, and some made pretty awesome comics with the sprites on the web site. The project was simple and easy and luckily the class picked it up fairly quickly. I think they actually enjoyed it a lot and there is even room to work on additional things if they wanted. Almost all of the students turned in the assignment, which was exciting. It seems like they all really liked it and I everyone is starting to feel comfortable around me. I am excited to continue working with the classes and Ms. Ward. 

Alex Thornburg

Day 8 (10/10) Steinmetz College Prep - Alex is going to Teach

by alexthornburg1 October 15, 2013

I wrote up my first assignment and I thought it would be cool to do a little scratch program for a change of pace. I had a few kids come see me and I went over everything with them to get a taste of what I needed to really explain. I am going to try to get them to program a little animated comic, but if they get the characters to say hello I will give them credit. 

Alex Thornburg