Creative Code in BAVC's Next Gen Open Source track

Posted on: Tuesday, April 03 2012

By Gabriel Dunne, Next Gen Open Source Instructor

As part of a broader partnership between BAVC and Mozilla to encourage next-generation integrated learning and career skills, this spring Digital Pathways is teaching an Open Source track to youth ages 14-24.

Tucked away in BAVC's Blue Lab, a group of students are creating projects with Processing, a language developed for visual learners and artists. They are using it to make their own creatures and monsters while learning the basics of programming logic to create their own software.

As the students get familiar with coding in Processing, they can look forward to coding in other languages like Javascript that include web-native languages and markup such as HTML and CSS, as well as professional coding skills such as version control, using the UNIX command line, and publishing their own web portfolio. The next phase of the course includes experimenting with Mozilla's HTML5 media framework Popcorn.js to create interactive narratives.

"Monster" by Tim

The projects students are pursuing are as varied as their interests. Using code as a medium inspires work that has the potential to include games, art, non-linear narrative, websites, apps, and original software tools that can be used for other projects and research.

"Mandala" by Steven Lee

"Learning to code visually directly connects my ideas to the code. I can see my progress, and I can see step by step what I'm creating," says Andrew, a current Next Gen student.

"Pretty much everything I do on the computer is visual, so coding visuals really makes it interesting.", says Logan, a first-time Next Gen student.

"Sonar" by Logan

I asked: has learning how to code changed the way you think about software you see online or elsewhere?

"Yeah, it definitely does", says Logan. "There's this online app called Sumo Paint. There's these features like gravity on the paint brushes, and a symmetry mode. After a few days of class I realized how to make it."

You can view some Processing projects coded by the 2012 Open Source track students on

A sample of student work on