Final week

This was our final session this year. Only a very small group today but all the participants achieved plenty, working on their projects and learning about programming using Scratch.

Meanwhile, the parents enjoyed a knitting and crocheting skill share:

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Hour of Code

This week we looked at using Sensing blocks and Broadcast and Receive. We provided some examples of using these blocks; it’s easy to find more using the Scratch projects search bar.

To join in with Computer Science Education Week (Dec 7-13th), there was the option to join in with the challenge of an ‘Hour of Code. Code.org has plenty of projects that you can get stuck into using well loved characters and themes, eg Star Wars, Minecraft and Frozen.

Scratch Flash Mob!

When: Set a date and time

Where: At a specially created studio in Scratch

Invite: Your friends

Purpose: Collective creative fun

  • Add projects to the studio to show others what you’re working on right now.
  • Add something you’ve made that you’d like others to play.
  • Add projects by other Scratchers that you like and you think others will too.
  • Leave comments in the studio to chat with each other in real time.

We did this. It was fun.

The Big Challenge

This week there was a lot to do but we were thwarted by the library computer system being uncommunicative (something to do with an NCC update), so we missed a big chunk of time and then were literally pushed from our seats by the next club who arrive as we finish.

However, we issued a ‘Big Challenge’ this week, something to work on up to the end of the year. It can be a game or an animated story, a lap-book or a quiz, or something entirely different….but it must contain 1 element from the red list, one from the green and one from the blue.

The elements are:

Dice;

Could change a background, make a sprite (dis)appear, give your sprite some lives or dictate the number of moves as in a board game.

Data and Variables;

Sprites can be given attributes such as strength or health, points can be scored, musical tempo can be controlled.

Music;

Should be composed not borrowed. Could be triggered by dice or a background change.

Sounds triggered by events;

Should be borrowed from Scratch Sounds. If something happens then play sound. Try editing the sounds.

Sensor blocks;

For interaction between sprites or colours. Could trigger a sound or send a message.

Message Broadcasting and Receiving;

If something happens send a message for another sprite to do something.

Not everyone has yet explored how to use these blocks or elements in Scratch so each session we will focus on a different one so that they can then incorporate them into their Big Challenge.

We’d like the participants to think about the lists that we made right back at the beginning of the sessions in March 2015, detailing what they like to do with computers and without, and use those ideas.

Looking forward to seeing what they will all come up with.

Group 2

Lunch?

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We kicked off the group 2 sessions with a chat about what everyone does with computers, the games they like etc followed by compiling a list of activities that they like to do which don’t involve computers, we’ll come back to these lists at a later date. Then we got stuck in to talking about algorithms. One of the participants had been primed with the details of a task in which he was to play a robot who would be instructed to make a peanut butter sandwich by the rest of the participants. The ‘robot’ relished his task of being as pedantic as possible.

The demonstration caused much laughter and between them the children provided a memorable display of how necessary it is to be accurate, methodical and logical in giving instructions to computers.

We then moved on to logging into Scratch and making a start on exploring the possibilities. As with the 1st group, there is a wide range of ages (7-13) present, and a wide spectrum of prior useage of Scratch. As usual, those familiar with Scratch were encouraged to provide pointers to those new to Scratch.

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Week 10: What Makes A Game Great To Play?

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Returning to the library for the first session this term, the group is now bursting at the seams with enthusiastic participants. Many thanks to the families who brought laptops in with them so that we could squeeze more children into the session, a temporary measure until we can buy our own laptops for the group.

Hereafter this group becomes ‘group 1’ because ‘group 2’ will be starting in two weeks with a further fourteen participants.

Today we asked group 1 ‘What makes a game great to play?’ I scribbled the children’s answers as quickly as possible but they were coming faster than I could write…..

“Interesting scenery and graphics, something that challenges you but not so much that it’s impossible, fighting mobs – goodies vs baddies, the option to restart, lots of levels, collecting items (eg coins) and being able to use them in some way (to buy something or to create something new), the ability to make something within the game, unlocking treasure or levels, a good story, controlling the action in the game, a multiplayer option, gaining a score, having a mission……”

We suggested two websites that the children could research games on, http://www.friv.com and http://www.miniclip.com, and then invited them to take some time to find a game that they would like to use as inspiration to make their own Scratch version.

At the end of the session they animatedly shared their work with each other and made comments and suggestions about the projects. No one had completed their project so they have something to work on between sessions if they wish.

It’s interesting to see how each child has a preferred specialism that they return to when making new projects – for instance, one creates characters in the paint program which have an enormous amount of personality for something made of a few brush stokes, another focuses on game mechanics – remembering where they have previously used code that would be helpful to use again and ‘backpacking’ it between projects, another always has a joke or unexpected comedy moment in their projects that make the others laugh, one pictures in their mind very precisely the ‘look’ they want to create and can translate that into their projects, and so on. Three of the children decided today that they would work collaboratively on a project.

Non-participating siblings and parents are welcome to stay during the session;  sometimes they join in too…

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blog post by MadameSultana