Archive for March, 2013


VCEC – Design Briefs

See on Scoop.itOnline resources relevant to Design and Technologies Education – Designing for the future

The Virginia Children’s Engineering Council website

Joanne‘s insight:

I am particularly looking at the design brief for year 3 – Exploring Animal Environments for the theme of my curated collection however this resource has examples of design briefs for all year levels that can be saved as PDf’s and adapted for use in your classroom. Great examples that could be used to engage students in the process of writing their own design briefs.

See on www.childrensengineering.org

This weeks activities included the use of many of the scripts and palette blocks I have engaged with over the last three weeks. Once again I changed the background, designed a paddle and created sprites for use within the game. However more of the scripts in the motion palette were used this week including direction as well as the combination of motion and operators scripts were used for directing the ball sprite. The operator scripts were a new tool this week however I must admit I don’t really understand at this point how I would use them.

The sensing palette was implemented to control the movement of the ball, which initially was controlled by the mouse and then after changing the sequence the control was changed to the keyboard. A further introduction this week was the use of variables to determine the score and speed at which the ball sprite moved. The use of the variables scripts was very easy. All that is required is the typing of the variable you would like to add and that is it the program adds that variable.

Overall this weeks activity still utilised similar learning skills such as creative thinking skills, problem solving skills and collaborative working in the challenge however an important addition was the incorporation of the variable. As with all learning the consideration of variables is evident and this is highlighted in the Draft Australian Curriculum: Technologies, digital technologies subject where students are required to plan, design, create and evaluate their solution. The inclusion of the variable aspect allows students to evaluate the effectiveness of their game when different variables are at play.

Through remixing and changing the parameters of the game students learn valuable design and life skills. The Scratch program could be used in the classroom to teach students about variables, the process of design, how to collaborate and how to find solutions to fix problems and improve the outcome of the game.

Week 3 activities included designing a game called Pong.

Week 3 activities included designing a game called Pong.

Here is a link to the Scratch home page where you can download it and try it yourself.http://scratch.mit.edu/

2013-03-11_1159_scratchWeek 2 activities using Scratch required some not so impressive drawing skills on my part where I had to draw a race track, race car and trees around the track. I began by learning how to draw my own sprite, changing the background and then programming the car (using keys on the keyboard) to move forward, left, right and backwards. To make the game more exciting the activity then required the inclusion of code to show text on the screen saying ‘Bad Luck’ when you hit the grass as well as the action of sending you back to the start. Can I just say this happened more times than I would like to admit but it did make the game more challenging and brought out a ‘I not going to let this beat me attitude!!’

To add to the excitement I then needed to add code that would time my race as well as show text saying ‘Well done’ when you reached the finish line. No fantastic times were set here but it did provide motivation to improve each attempt.

After the initial activities were complete the challenge activities required the inclusion of background features and a second car to race against. This proved to be the most fun of all the activities. My drawing skills did not improve and the drawing of the sprites was perhaps the most frustrating experience of all the tasks but it all proved to be worth it when you could see what you had accomplished and play a game of your own creation (with some guidance of course) with other members of your family.

I could see this activity proving to be very popular with students wishing to beat times and race against each other. I feel the value in learning within this activity would be the use of critical and creative thinking skills to allow both  cars to move independently, students can express themselves creatively and artistically in their drawings as well as sharing the game and working collaboratively with their classmates. All these skills are valuable life skills which are being developed through engaging with Scratch. Perhaps the biggest skills developed during this exercise for me was perseverance!!!!

 

As part of a fourth year course in my Bachelor of Education program I have been engaging with a program called Scratch. Scratch is a free programming tool that allows users to learn basic coding through the animation of sprites, once completed the project can then be published to the web or saved for future reference.

The activities for week one introduced the basic functions of the software allowing for exploration of the motion, look, sound, pen and control functions of the program. After downloading the program, which was a quick and simple process, the first activity asked me to program the sprite (a character on the stage area of the screen), which in this case was a cat but could be interchanged to a number of different characters.

Using the block palette, I selected coding that would allow my sprite to move in a set sequence and dragged this coding into the script area in the middle of the screen, this in turn produced a moving sprite in the third section of the screen, which is refered to as the stage area.

Extensions to the initial activity including changing the colour of the sprite, adding sound to the movements of the sprite and using the control function to return the sprite to the beginning of the sequence again.

The next activities required coding to program the sprite to draw polygons and the need for a basic understanding of geometry was evident to ensure the correct shapes were drawn. This activity was lots of fun but also a challenge as I planned out the direction and angles the sprite needed to take to ensure the completion of a polygon and not some indescribable shape on the stage (which I might add occurred more than once as I improved my skills).

The final activity was to program an Etch-a-sketch which required the application of most of the skills learnt in this session but also required higher order thinking to enable duplication of the coding to enable the sequence to duplicate the actions of a etch-a-sketch when the arrow keys on the keyboard are used.

Application in the classroom

I believe Scratch aligns very well with the direction of the new Draft Australian Curriculum: Technologies as this type of resource is part of the modern literacy our students will be expected to engage with and utilize. Learning experiences that would benefit from the inclusion of Scratch could include; development of geometry skills, angles and shapes in the maths key learning area, the creation of digital stories could be an addition to many key learning areas and the incorporation of the sound function allows students to create their own music.

The ability to publish and share the students completed work is another positive about the Scratch program. As discussed in the Draft Australian Curriculum: Technologies students need to be involved in planning, developing, designing, creating and evaluating solutions and the Scratch program allows learning experiences that tick all of these boxes.

My learning experience

While I did feel very excited with the simple creations I had accomplished, I also realised just how much I don’t understand about computers and hence why I have always been apprehensive about anything that required my use of something new. This realisation really brought home for me the gap in my understanding and the need to ensure this is not the case for future generations.

As I mentioned in my last post my daughter easily completed these tasks with minimal explanation so I do believe that due to this generations emersion in the technology era they are already open to this type of thinking and would embrace learning that allowed them to further there understanding of how technology works.

See on Scoop.itOnline resources relevant to Design and Technologies Education – Designing for the future

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent.

Joanne‘s insight:

Fantastic idea that could be used in the class without needing to be confined to the set timeframe of this event. Students could learn about the birds in their own surroundings looking at factors that may affect the birds and create solutions to assist in increasing bird numbers in certain regions of Australia. This would be a great introductory exercise that most students would enjoy participating in. It could also include watching for different bird species within the school environment as well as home.

See on www.birdsource.org

See on Scoop.itOnline resources relevant to Design and Technologies Education – Designing for the future

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent.

Joanne‘s insight:

Fantastic idea that could be used in the class without needing to be confined to the set timeframe of this event. Students could learn about the birds in their own surroundings looking at factors that may affect the birds and create solutions to assist in increasing bird numbers in certain regions of Australia. This would be a greta introductory exercise that most students would enjoy participating in. It could also include watching for different bird species within the school environment as well as home.

See on www.birdsource.org

See on Scoop.itOnline resources relevant to Design and Technologies Education – Designing for the future

By Melanie Kahl Designers are privileged to work within a fascinating collision of fields at a time when the conversation could not be more pertinent. The in

See on blogs.kqed.org

See on Scoop.itOnline resources relevant to Design and Technologies Education – Designing for the future

Getty Images Design thinking can seem a bit abstract to teachers. It’s not part of traditional teacher training programs and has only recently entered

See on blogs.kqed.org

See on Scoop.itOnline resources relevant to the classroom implementation of technology education

I’ve always coveted my friend Melissa’s fabulous terrarium, which is the centerpiece of her stylish, cozy Brooklyn apartment. I’ve secretly wanted one of

Joanne‘s insight:

Simple step by step instructions on how to build a terrarium.

See on inhabitat.com

See on Scoop.itOnline resources relevant to the classroom implementation of technology education

Sir David Attenborough talks about the global amphibian crisis. The Zoological Society of London is working alongside Amphibian Ark (AArk), which was founded…

Joanne‘s insight:

Sir David Attenborough talks about the global amphibian crisis and how the loss of all frogs can impact the ecosystem. Frogs are the base to many other species and this can have a flow on affect to us as humans. This is a useful introduction for students to understand the need to protect the frogs and the importance of sustaining the environment and working together as a human species to find creative ways to save these critical amphibians. The call to look for solutions to solve this threat will hopefully motivate students to act.

See on www.youtube.com

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