• HTML, CSS, Oh My!

    Posted by Dennis Newberry on 1/29/2016
    It's been a few weeks since I updated you on what your students are working on. I also wanted to outline some logistics and where we are heading for the rest of the year. 
    As I outlined in my last update, we started out by working in Tynker (Scratch-like visual programming) and making a "Flappy Bird" clone. We spent the first month working on this project as well as some solo project work where the kids built their own games. The Flappy Bird project had the students working to understand the following concepts:
    • Object spatial awareness 
    • Creation of events when objects occupy the same space on the screen
    • Using events to trigger other object behavior (example: when the bird hits the ground, "THE END" gets presented
    • Using keyboard and mouse controls to move objects
    • Create simulated movement through cartoon-style animation by using control statements on objects
    I have been trying to keep the kids interest so rather than driving the Flappy Bird game to extreme accuracy, we switched gears and went into HTML and CSS coding. Our first project here was to create a comic strip that would be presented in a browser. They should have these saved on their flash drives if you would like them to demonstrate their progress. This project left the simplicity of the Tyker/Scratch interface and visual programming and had them writing actual code. 
    As you might imagine, the success and interest in this activity became very interesting. Some of the kids immediately liked this more detailed work and others found it more frustrating. We spent about 3 weeks navigating through this project with the last two weeks geared more towards learning how to troubleshoot code and the importance of syntax. There were more than a couple of high fives executed when they found a missing semicolon and saw their project work like intended. 
    Today we kicked off another project where we made a wanted poster in HTML and CSS. With this one I made it a bit easier by providing all the code via a Trinket project (https://trinket.io/html/58318bee1f) and they just made changes to the parameters that were provided to see how the changes effected the website. Now, this was basically a review of what they had already done in the comic strip project but by using Trinket I think it turned on some light bulbs that got lost in the battle with syntax from the previous weeks. At the end of the session, I had them migrate the code from Trinket into their own file structure that they could take home and expand on. 
    Next Friday is the last week of the first session of Technology Club. We will continue with another HTML and CSS project that will be contained to a single week. If your kids want to continue on to the second session of Tech Club, I would love to have them continue. We only have two other kids coming to the second session and the number of kids is very manageable. 
    NOTE: I will be out of town on Friday, Feb 12th, which would have been the start of the 2nd session. Therefore, the 2nd session will start the following Friday 2/19. 
    In the 2nd session, I want to move on to introducing some Python development and the use of Turtle graphics. We will use control statements as we did in the Tynker project, but this time in actual code that will control our drawings using turtle. This will be very fun!
    Other topics I'm considering in the 2nd session also involve using Python to create music using SonicPi. 
    If you have any questions, please let me know!
    Thanks for letting me share technology with your kids!
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  • Gravity kills

    Posted by Dennis Newberry on 11/6/2015

    Wow! I am really impressed and inspired by your kids!

    We have been using the Tynker platform to work on our Flappy Bird clone. In this application, I have setup a classroom and can assign lessons and see their work as well as their projects. Additionally, we have the ability to "showcase" our projects. 
    Today we started our session with two of the projects from the previous week that I thought showed either unique solutions or game concept and had the kids talk through their code and what they were trying to accomplish. 
    We then worked on the primary movements of the bird in the upcoming Flappy Bird clone. I challenged them with a limited scope problem and gave them 20 minutes to come up with a solution. I saw three different ways to solve the problem I posed and we talked about the merits of each approach. 
    Their homework for the next week will be to create a game that: 
    1. Uses the physics engine to implement gravity
    2. Invoke an action when objects (actors) collide
    I will follow the same routine next week where I announce two "Game of the Week" awards and have them discuss their game and code. 
    It is VERY rewarding to me to see them working on these games at home!! We already have 16 game projects in our class in just a couple of weeks. Amazing!
    NOTE: I will be traveling for work in two weeks and will miss the Nov 20th session. As such, due to the Thanksgiving holiday, next week will be the last session until December 4th. I will be sure to give them a lot to think about! :-)
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  • Flappy Bird Clone

    Posted by Dennis Newberry on 10/30/2015

    The CMES Technology Club is off to a good start. We are working on building our own version of the addictive and frustrating game "Flappy Bird". The students have brainstormed and put together this story board. We will be using this to break our game into smaller sections that we will create and eventually piece together into a whole game. 



    Stay tuned!

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  • Technically curious?

    Posted by Dennis Newberry on 9/15/2015
    1. Is your son or daughter one of those kids who likes to take the TV apart to see what's inside?
    2. Do they ever ask you if they can become a "Youtuber"?
    3. Are they fascinated by watching other people play video games? 
    4. Do they already know more about your smartphone than you do? 


    If you answered yes to any of these questions (and they are in 4th or 5th grade), you should probably sign them up for Technology Club.


    The last Friday in October, we are launching this new enrichment program geared primarily around software creation. I have a lot of ideas for projects already in mind, however we are going to work together as a team to figure out what problems we want to solve. Tech Club will meet every Friday morning before school. 


    I can't wait!

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