Learn to Program While Carving a Pumpkin

Khan Purple Pumpkin Face
Khan Academy Jack-O-Lantern Coded by Maryann Goldman. Image: Khan Academy

Did you miss out on carving your very own pumpkin this Halloween? Did you see everyone’s jack-0-lanterns when you were out trick-or-treating on Halloween and wish that your carvings looked as good as theirs did? Well, it’s not too late to carve your own pumpkin while learning a bit about programming in the process. Khan Academy has created a Pumpkin Coding Contest where you can use JavaScript to create a virtual jack-o-lantern. You can start out with their basic template and then modify it to your heart’s content.  Or, you can start out with someone else’s program and modify it by creating a spin-off. Don’t like the template? Then dazzle the Khan Academy programming community with a whole new look. No matter what method you choose, you’re bound to create a masterpiece.

I created a basic jack-o-lantern with a purple face using the template. Then, I found a pumpkin which simulated the Khan Academy tree and hand logo, and I used it to create a Happy Thanksgiving turkey-themed pumpkin. I changed the leaves in the logo to multi-colored turkey feathers, and I added a head and face. Thanksgiving will be here before you know it! I’ll have to check back and see if anyone does a spin-off of my turkey to make it even better.

Khan Turkey Pumpkin
Khan Academy Turkey Pumpkin Coded by Maryann Goldman. Image: Khan Academy

There were several other really awesome pumpkins including a TARDIS pumpkin, a Ghostbusters pumpkin, and a Minion pumpkin. Check them out and vote for your favorite. Or, create your own. Your only limit is your imagination and, well, maybe your programming skills. Don’t worry, though. Not up to coding in JavaScript yet? Check out the full Khan Academy Computer Programming course. My boys, ages 10 and 12, took the course with me about six months ago. It was a lot of fun and gave the kids a great kick-start to programming. You’ll soon be on your way to creating cool programs too.