Ritsumeikan high school: coding camp in March 2019

March 2019 a group of 40 Japanese students made an educational visit with their teachers to Oulu to familiarize hands-on with robotics and also with product development of game and ICT companies. The purpose of the visit was also to learn about Finnish culture and to make new friends so we invited also 10 Finnish high school students to participate in the camp.

The participants from Japan were also high school students aged 16-17 years. Some of them had no prior knowledge of robotics nor programming but we provided them with some material to study in advance. The Finnish participants also attended introductory level lessons before the camp to prepare themselves for their role as hosts to their guests.

The camp took place in the center of Oulu in Game Campus. On the first day there was a welcoming ceremony after which all the participants were introduced to each other and to the program of the week. After the participants were divided into teams of 5 people, one Finnish and four Japanese.

Mission for all the teams was to program and build a puzzle for an escape room using either a micro:bit-microcontroller or a Lego-robot. Also a selection of electrical equipment was available to be used. First there was an introductory lesson on electronics and after that the teams started working on their projects. There were 4 teachers from the Code School Finland to assist the teams if they had any questions.

Besides learning coding and robotics the teams got to practise also english and presentation skills when they were asked to tell about their projects at the end of every day.

During the week the students also visited game making teams in the Oulu University of Applied Sciences Game Lab and attended a lecture about the game industry.

The group had a special request about organizing a coding lesson on Unity for some of the students who had already practised it before the camp. So we arranged our Unity-teacher to come by for a one day workshop which was very much liked by the students. While this Unity-group was working on their 3D-programming in the coding class the rest of us made an obstacle course for them as a surprise. It was made with micro:bits using the light sensor input. The obstacle course was really challenging and only one student managed to finish it! It was a lot of fun for all of us to watch this competition.

After each day the Finnish students had a chance to spend an evening with their new Japanese friends and most of them did that. They usually stayed in the Game Campus playing cards or games or they went walking to the city center together.

On the last day all the team’s puzzles were ready and they were combined into two escape rooms which were then presented to the judges. The escaped rooms were also open to all visitors and workers in the Game Campus

After a long deliberation the winner team was selected and the judges decided to award also a runner-up since both of the projects were outstanding. All of the puzzles worked the way they were designed to work and the judges were impressed by them.

Then it was time for a farewell party with sweets and snacks. The Japanese students wanted to teach us about their culture so we had a chance to learn calligraphy and origami.

After the camp, the whole staff of Code School Finland had the same feeling as one of the Japanese participants expressed in her feedback: ”It was a very good experience. I want to do again.”