Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beginning a Learning Partnership

We will have a meeting for middle school parents on Wednesday this week and I want to have a student help me explain some of the new directions we are taking. Jon is an eighth-grade student who enjoys science and wants to learn more. Ms. Theberge thought that he would be able to learn quickly and be confident enough to share on such short notice.

We met last Friday during Community Enrichment Time (CET) to make a plan. I had hoped that he would be able to bring his laptop home over the weekend so that he could learn to use the data logging and analysis software that MLTI installed on all computers. At that meeting, he told me that he could not do that because students cannot bring home computers until after the parent meeting. Foiled.

When I told Ms. Koch the story on Monday morning, she said, "We have a computer that we could loan to him for this purpose!" So, I quickly installed the required software and she delivered it to his math class. He returned this afternoon for another session to prepare for Wednesday evening. He seemed pleased to have had the opportunity to work on the project at home. He could not find the video tutorial so he figured it out on his own. He looked at the help menu but did not realize that further down the page they provided links to additional information. Despite these challenges, he was able to create the trace of a foosball bouncing on a hard floor.

We compared his experiment to the simple simulation that I created 7 months ago (click on the image to go to the Scratch site where you can interact with the project and download it to revise and improve it):

Scratch Project

Now that we have more insight from our research, I can see ways to correct some over-simplification in my simulation!

We reflected that he had been able to make considerable progress on the challenge. That he had exercise ingenuity to solve some problems. That he enjoyed the 'hard fun.' That there are opportunities to improve his initial attempt. That he should keep a copy of his first try so that we can look back on the experience to see the progress that he/we are making. He has a soccer game this afternoon so he won't have as much time to repeat the experiment but will try.

I wonder if he will think about bouncing soccer balls in new ways as a result of this work?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Progress as a Mechanic

Gamestar support responded to my query. Seems as if they are still refining their level controls:
Gamestar Mechanic Your bug report Sep 7th, 2010
Hi, SCSpaeth-

It seems you have found a bug! The system has been incorrectly unlocking some quest games for users. You are required to beat all missions in an episode before the next episode is unlocked. You can currently check to see if a mission is completed by a red check mark that appears on the mission tab. If there is no red check mark, then the mission is not complete.

As it currently stands, if you do not finish a mission, the next one will still unlock. You can go back to a mission by clicking its tab in the mission screen. You may experience unexpected behavior in how your episodes unlock until we address this issue within the next week.

Thank you for your bug report!

I returned and reworked through all the levels in Episode 2 and finally got to move on to Episode 3. While I worked, Kate asked me what I was doing. She is used to a regular pattern of sounds coming from my computing. This certainly differed from my typical computing. I told her personally, that I'd prefer solving puzzles (e. g. mind bending) to action but the Factory is training well-rounded game mechanics.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gamestar Mechanic Challenges

I signed up for the Gamestar Mechanic Beta because of the power that I saw in ITeam members use of Scratch 1.4 to create games. Some students had a little difficulty with Scratch programming so I hope that Gamestar Mechanic will provide an easier on ramp to this kind of learning opportunity.

My invitation arrived and I have been exploring and asking older students to explore. They are generally enthusiastic and I am enjoying the opportunity to learn new skills and ideas. But I got stuck so I sent the following message to the Gamestar Mechanic support system:

In the instructions for participating in the Challenge you say

"If you haven't already, complete Episodes 1-5 of the Quest to earn the right to publish games in your Workshop. If you already have, you might want to replay Episode 4 for a quick reminder about top-down games vs. platformers." So, I know that there are at least three more Episodes to complete.

I have completed the four levels of Episode 1 and two levels of Episode 2. But now, the only choices I can make are to replay levels within Episodes 1 and 2. The colored indices display on the silos on the left of Factory 7 and level tabs (4 for E1 and 2 for E2 )but I don't know how to activate more levels within E2 or the next Episode. If that is part of the puzzle to be solved, then I'll keep searching for the key. If it is an unintended challenge, I'd appreciate some help in continuing.

Maybe I need a kid to help me through this barrier.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

How to make a fake UFO video

Avery has been looking forward to joining ITeam. He found one of my YouTube accounts and subscribed to my channel. When I looked one of his videos, it bore a striking similarity to one I posted recently:


Mine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sv7xG9KA4Ss

Until he pointed it out, I had no idea that I had been making "ufo videos." I'll have to ask him how he is getting his viewers!