Since we had exams and then winter break, we haven’t had any class time in almost a month. In our last class before break, however, we all did the Hour of Code. The Hour of Code is a nationwide attempt to get young people more educated and excited about coding. The website code.org has many coding activities, several of which were similar to scratch and etoys, which we used throughout in the semester. The activity I tried with my partner was in order to make a flappy bird game, as seen below. On a different note, I’m getting very excited about the St. John trip in May. Right now, everyone must decide whether they’ll be traveling, and the whole trip seems a lot closer and ‘more real’ than before winter break. After teaching some of CSG’s students in December, I feel a little more prepared for the students in St. John, and I’m really starting to look forward to our trip.
I'm the only person in my section of OLPC because of some freak of scheduling, and it's actually been really fun because I get to be more flexible about what I do in class and learn more at my own pace! I have made some games in Scratch, like the Brickbreaker game below, and some animations in Etoys, like an astronaut in space. I've started to learn some Python as well because I aspire to create an astronomy teaching app for the Sugar operating system, which the XO laptops use. My understanding of formal coding languages like Python has really supplemented my experiences with Scratch and Etoys, but they have also fed my understanding of code in in return! I have done a lot of repairs on the XO hardware, including figuring out how to reset the clock and replace the battery, and this has helped me realize that even though I like software more than hardware, doing repairs on the hardware is fun and I'm pretty good at it! Problem-solving to replace parts and fix bugs on the XO's is a lot of fun and makes me feel accomplished. I also enjoyed going to the 5th grade and sharing my Scratch skills with them. It was good preparation for the trip to St. John because it made me think about how to improve my own skills as a teacher and got me excited to go and teach the kids there!
Different from what we have been doing these past few weeks in OLPC, today we started to disassemble some XO tablets that we will be bringing on our trip to St. John. Following instructions, like the picture below (from the site: wiki.laptop.org), we learned how to dismantle the XO tablet in order to put a new battery in as well as how to replace the screen. There were a lot of screws that we had to keep track of and, luckily, my partner and I did not lose any of them. After we replaced the screen and battery, per the instructions on the site, we had to set the time on the tablets by first turning them on and then typing in a short code. Once we finished setting the time, we had to restart the tablet. If our screen did not have a sad face when it was restarting, then it meant that the time had been set. Then, if your screen did not have the sad face, you and your partner began to trouble-shoot the tablets. For instance, we checked that the keyboard was working as well as the Wifi and internet. Although it was a little stressful having to keep track of the screws and hoping that I did not break anything while taking the tablet apart, the experience was great! It made me realize what we are bringing to the kids in St. John as well as what I have signed up to take part in. Even though learning Scratch and Etoys have been fun, taking apart the tablets today was just as great. For that reason, I am more excited than I was at the beginning to travel to St. John, and help the kids there learn how to put the tablets together and use them.
This week we have been continuing to learn Etoys. Specifically, we focused on making an object follow another object. We did this through the creation of a game. In the game, we had an animal or person chasing a prize, and a “bad guy” chasing the animal or person. The object of the game was to reach the prize before being touched by the bad guy, which causes you to lose. To do this, we had to draw the characters in separate layers, and create a complicated coding sequence for each. Last week, we taught the fifth graders at CSG how to do a basic coding sequence in Scratch, and getting to teach younger students was great practice for St. John. For me, it finally sank in that we are actually going to St. John in May, and that we get to teach students there.
Please see the Photos - 2014-15 page to see photos of our experience
teaching Scratch to the 5th graders.
One Laptop Per Child students, as always, have been working extra hard these past couple of days, both inside and outside of class. Mainly, our focus has been on Etoys…we still have so much to learn! We’re are working more on using a holder to make one image change to another.
Additionally, we were given the wonderful opportunity of teaching the lower school 5th graders how to use the Scratch program. Because they used an older version of Scratch, we had to quickly familiarize ourselves to get used to the different aspects. For a lot of us, this was our first time actually teaching younger students and monitoring a class. Some of us were a little nervous about tackling on this special task (I know I was!), but overall, I think everyone did a fantastic job, and things went fairly smoothly. With the help of each other and Ms. Murakami, we were able to explain a step-by-step process of creating meet-and-greet sprites.
We were very lucky to have had this first experience. I found that demonstrating a certain process to someone else actually taught me a little more about the program. Yes, I had times where I simply did not know what to do or how to help, but I was able to learn solutions by simply clicking around. Thankfully, several of the younger girls caught on quickly and found tricks I’d never even heard of. It was so interesting to see their creative minds put into action, and I was glad to be a part of it!
In class the past couple of weeks we have been jumping back and forth from Etoys and Scratch, learning more and more about both of the programs. We have also been preparing lesson plans to use when we teach the 5th graders coming up. We are planning on teaching them to use Scratch, and make two characters walk toward each other, say something, and then walk away.
Something else we have been working on in Etoys is taking multiple pictures and make the images move so the object looks like it is being changed. For example, below I have a picture of mine. I drew 5 pictures of a Popsicle, however each drawing is different, I drew each Popsicle to get smaller as though it looks like someone is taking a bight out of it. When you put the images together, it appears to be a fast motion of someone eating a Popsicle. You could do any type of motion/ imagery, for example some of my class mates did a person smiling, or an apple falling from a tree. You could really do any action, just as long as you draw the images that represent the clips of the motions.
My favorite thing so far has been working with Etoys, and creating games, like in the screen clip above. I really enjoy creating my own characters, like the shark, and designing and picking the colors of the objects. I also like how official you can make the game, with the joystick and the “press me” button to reset the game.
Over the past couple weeks we have been using two programs: Scratch and Etoys. We have learned how to code, and create basic games and scenes. Last week in class we did something different though, we learned how to make an animation. We did a basic animation with just two pictures, but it made me realize all the possibilities that could come. I did a girl crying for my first animation, below is the picture. It was simple and the script was not as complicated as it seems. I hope in the future I will be able to make an animation with more pictures making a more complex and detailed final product. Based on the 2-picture animation below, I see it very possible for this to happen. I cannot wait to progress with learning skills, such as animations, because I know the kids in Saint John will also be eager to learn this. I am feeling very excited to teach and learn more at this point in the class.
Over the past couple weeks of class we have learned how to use coding programs such as Scratch and ETOYS. We learned what code is, how to write code and the endless possibilities that can be made with the different uses of coding. I had no idea how much time and effort went into simple things like taking a character through a maze or making an object touch something and react to it. I have learned that coding has a lot more detail than I would ever think. Now when I look at a game I will be able to picture the amount of hard work actually went into it.
This is a picture I found of a very interesting scratch presentation. I thought it was very interesting that the person who designed this was able to go into so much detail as to have the fish different colors, and the sand with polka dots on it. It is very impressive, and something to work towards! In class we have been working on programming characters to do what we want for example complete a maze, touch a specific spot on the screen and run away, or talk to another character on the screen. We have learned tips and tricks to make a professional looking game. We have also experienced what does not work, and why. We have worked through glitches and the difficulties to create a very awesome game. I am learning that computer programming takes a lot of patience, which I did not realize. I have a lot of respect for those in computer programming as I did not realize just how difficult it is to create a game that is glitch free. I am understanding more in depth the process it takes for a game to be created like 2048 that many people play without thinking much about. I am very glad I am taking this class and am enjoying about computer programming.
During the school year, students will be blogging about their experiences approximately once a week. Please check back for updates.