Last week Code Club was challenging. I gave my coders a difficult project. They did it, but it was probably not the best fit for the group because it has to be precisely followed with a long set up. I used Paint Box, a project from Code Club World (We are a registered Code Club World club). It introduces some key Scratch blocks and new ideas of how to use Scratch. Hopefully some of those ideas will be useful.
Some pen tools
One of these objectives was to introduce the Pen blocks. It’s one set of tools that I didn’t even talk about in the first round of Code Club. I’m not sure why exactly. Perhaps because they remind me of Turtle Logo programming and for that reason, I couldn’t see how students would use them in a game of their own making. Still, the Paint Box project is pretty cool – you make your own paint program.
While Code Club hasn’t used the Pen blocks, I have introduced Simon Haughton’s Etch-a-Sketch project to some 3rd & 4th graders in a half-hour class/group setting. So for Code Club, I went for the more challenging Paint Box project.
The second learning objective I found in this project was to see “broadcast” used in another way. I like Paint Box project’s use of the broadcast/receive code blocks. This can be a powerful tool in coding with Scratch. It this case, it is used for simple button handling. We have used broadcast-receive blocks before, but to see it used in a variety of ways will help them see how useful this command can be.
handling button clicks
There were some unexpected behaviors in the code that the students kept calling glitches. I hadn’t noticed them when I worked through the project. Again, we are still using Scratch 1.4 in the lab, for now, but it turns out what was making the pen “glitchy” was the placement of the Sprite center. This was another learning objective – learn about “set costume center”.
set costume center is key
The directions specify to set the costume center at the point of the pencil Sprite. If the costume center was over the drawing of the pen itself, the pen down action wouldn’t always work and drawing on the screen became “glitchy”. It seems when costume center on the pencil Sprite combined with the mouse commands causing the Sprite to be under the mouse when “mouse down” is received, Scratch isn’t sure if you are interacting with the Stage or playing the game. If you run the program in projector mode, the glitches are alleviated and the pen works in any costume center placement. I found this out later when working through the buggy behavior with my spouse, the software engineer.
one student’s Paint Box project
So this project was heavy on the learning objectives. By the end of the hour most of them had a couple of buttons. Only one was thinking about adding more – a rainbow pencil or “stamps”. They did it, but their creativity wasn’t tapped. I need to give them time for more creativity. Next two weeks we’ll be back to game projects then they’ll start their independent project.
Here are two coders during indoor recess working on an independent project. Yeah, they really can’t wait for the independent project to start.
Pair-programming -4th grade style – sharing the same chair.
One of them has asked repeatedly if this can be their project for this session and I’ve told him “Yes” each time.