Class combines embroidery, computer programming

You don’t typically see an embroidery machine woven into the curriculum of a computer programming class — but that’s exactly what happened last week at Southeast High School.

Students in Alan Holdorf’s fourth-period computer programming class used an online program called TurtleStitch. The program allowed them to write computer code for embroidery designs, which were then transferred to a flash drive and plugged into an embroidery machine that stitched the final product on its own.

The lesson was the brainchild of Southeast business teacher Jennifer Clark. She borrowed the specialized embroidery machine from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where she worked as a research assistant last summer.

Clark was on hand Jan. 18 when Holdforf’s students, ranging from 10th to 12th grade, used TurtleStitch to create their own embroidery. They practiced using TurtleStitch for two weeks leading up to the class.

“They’re just getting their feet wet about how to tell a computer how to do something,” Clark said.

The students learned block coding methods and how to code in loops, which allows for repeat designs as opposed to having to write the same code over and over. Holdorf said the embroidery lesson laid a great foundation for the rest of the semester.

“I think the lesson was effective in that the students got interested, and personally invested, in what they were making,” he said. “The interface for the project is approachable so that every student can make something and can see their design come to life.”

Published: January 23, 2018, Updated: February 13, 2019