In Person Help Sessions

We usually offer one 3-hour in-person session a month on a Sunday afternoon at a local college or university. We provide food during the session.

The goal for the in-person help sessions is to increase a feeling of community and to help the high school students feel like they belong at the local college or university. It also allows you the chance to do longer hands-on projects with the students like make a movie in Alice 3 or a game in Greenfoot.

What to do before an in-person session

  • Plan the in-person session. We recommend introducing the participants to Alice 3 (, Greenfoot (, Finch Robots (, and Android Development in Java ( As you get closer to the exam you can do practice free response questions and hands-on searching and sorting algorithms.
  • Train the undergraduate leaders on whatever they will be doing at the in-person session
  • Poll the high school participants to find out who is coming and order food
  • Send an email with information on where to park or be dropped off. Provide ideas for parents for places to work, shop, or eat while they wait.
  • Have some small give-aways from carrer fairs to give out at the meeting if possible.
  • Reserve a room with computers or have the participants bring laptops and get internet access if needed.
  • Put out signs so that the high school students can figure out where to go and where to park

What to do during an in-person session

  • Do something more in-depth like create a movie or game in Alice 3, a game in Greenfoot, or an app using the Android development environment. See links before for sample projects for Alice 3 and Greenfoot.
  • Do some getting to know you activity (see Learn all of the participant’s names and give them a chance to talk to each other or work in groups.
  • Have speakers who can tell them about interesting research in computing (talk for only 15-20 minutes). This is especially good if they are close in age to the participants or the same race/gender. You can also bring in industry people. Have people talk about their journey in computing.
  • Do hands-on searching and sorting algorithms using decks of cards and toddler pop beads for merge sort. Write 4 digit numbers on the beads and then put them in a random order, but all connected. Then break the list in half and hand the two halfs to other people. Tell them to remember where they got the list from. They should also break each list in half and hand it to two others. If someone is given a list of one item they should just return it (a list of one item is sorted). When you get back two sorted lists, merge them. Put up the merge sort code and talk through what you are doing at each step.
  • Do old free response questions and have the students practice grading the solutions.
  • Take pictures but do not post the pictures on a public website. You might want to create a private Google Plus group for your participants.

What not to do during in-person sessions

  • Do not lecture for long periods of time. Don’t talk for more than 5 minutes!
  • Do not insult the high school students. Be encouraging. You want them to have a growth mindset that if they work at programming they can improve.
  • Do not introduce another programming language besides Java! The exam is in Java.

What to do after the in-person sessions

Fill in the attendance information in a Google document (create one to keep track of who attends each webinar and what topics you covered).

Alice 3 Ideas

Greenfoot Ideas

  • Show several scenarios like the balloon game and the ants looking for food that come with Greenfoot.
  • Talk about how the classes inherit from World or Actor
  • Create a new type of balloon in the balloon game that is worth more when you pop it or one that ends the game when you pop it.
  • Work with the students to create the Breakout game See for a webinar on how to do this
Next Section - Before the Exam