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Hellooooo wwwoooorld! Scary Ghouls and Thrilling Code

As Halloween flushes out skeletons, ghosts and witches, it’s time to dust off the cobwebs of existing code and re-purpose into bespoke, festive programs in celebration of All Hallows Eve. This year, ward off ancient spirits whilst also being eco-friendly. How? Well you’re reusing and recycling code!

Software Developers are forever borrowing and mashing together [or is that cannibalising?] existing code. Very few professionals build programs from scratch including the pre-built libraries created by others. And there’s lots to be gained from making subtle interventions into existing programs. By adjusting one line or block of code, running it and witnessing the effects, it’s easier to understand what each bit of code actually does. Hacking in to existing code also allows you to work with semi-complex programs straight away rather than starting from the beginning each time.

Like holding the hand of a sibling when trick-or-treating, why not introduce young programmers to Scratch. Replace sprite characters on an existing Cat and Mouse game to create Halloween-themed entertainment for a younger audience. Further develop the illusion of an animation by switching costumes in sprites such as make bats fly. By explaining how a program works to others you can practise using subject-specific words and terms.

For those coding with syntax, why not spook family and friends with a Haunted House program? Exercise your story-telling skills with spine-chilling tales and interactive code. You could even add ASCII art in to the mix [or cauldron!]. Who said art and science don’t go together? The sector is crying out [not blood tears] for technologists who have both creative and technical skills in equal measure so it literally pays to think out-of-the-box [or should that be out-of-the-coffin?] when working with computers!

Create a text file which lists all your favourite sweets. There are plenty of free online pre-prepared lists of sweets. – yes, some people really do have a lot of time on their [witches] hands. Treat visiting neighbours into choosing a sweet from your virtual Halloween goody bag. Either they get to choose a sweet or let them go blind-folded using random choice from the text file. Use more advanced programming skills such as lists – once the user chooses the sweet try removing their chosen item from the text file. The coding world is there for the picking [pickling].

Create your code in friendly environments such as Mu or Trinket – both great Python code editors for beginner programmers. Copy, paste, hack and test working code and then share your live [or dead] code on social media.

There are so many ways to also get your [fanged] teeth in to physical computing projects so light up the dark and eerie night using a micro:bit, LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) and sound. Or try simple electronic circuits rather than candles to illuminate a pumpkin using a light bulb, switch, batteries, wire and tape.

Go on, don’t be a scaredy cat!