Engineering Design Process

This week I will become the “project manager” for some 30 Scratch projects between my two Code Clubs.  It is Design Review week and the students will meet with me to go over their Game/Project Design Document before beginning to code their own projects to share at our Showcase for parents at the end of the term.

Last time we met I handed out the GDD (Game Design Document) for them to work on and complete before I meet with them for the design review process this week.

I’ve updated the GDD again.  (It is a work in progress).  This time I’ve added the EiE diagram of the Engineering Design Process to the front page and used language to support this process idea within. We use EiE curriculum in school, in our Hypertherm Hope grant supported after school clubs and summer Title I engineering camps. Many students have seen this before.

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In the “Ask” phase I explained that they would have an opportunity to make their own Scratch project and opened it up for their many questions.  We also spent some time looking at past 5 Code Club Showcase projects to see what others have done. (I really hope the llamas don’t get remixed again this time around.  They are hilarious the first time you watch, but… well, even the students were tired of them by the end)

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I also gave them some time to “Imagine” and sent the “Plan” GDD home with them.  Some were quick to come up with their ideas and completed the GDD before Code Club ended.  There will be some time this week while I meet with the groups to work on their “Plan”.

Once the “Plan” is approved it is time to “Create” then test and “Improve”.

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Also new to the GDD is the Team Member Jobs plan. – I am letting them pick a partner of their choice (this is a club, not school) but I’ve found it is often ambiguous who will work on what part.  I’m hoping this part of the GDD will help me help them get work done.

Cute story:  One of my high school volunteers came to me, concerned, with a question about the “working with a partner” option.  A code club member had asked him, the high schooler, to be his partner. So I had to specify to the nine year old, “You can work together with any other code club member, but the high school volunteers will be helping everyone and can’t be your partner.”

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Play Testing

Last week in Code Club we did the project Space Junk and it was a hit.

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Space Junk project with pulse shooting wand

My goals were for them to get the arrow keys working, learn about importing/exporting Sprites and spend some time checking out other people’s games.  If they were able to implement a growing planet or the timer, that was super.

Soon they will be starting their own projects, possibly in pairs, so I wanted to introduce the idea of sharing assets – like a Sprite – between two coders. When we discuss pair programming and they have the design review they will need to decide who will do which part and learning about exporting/importing Sprites will help.  I had a space cat Sprite from the Super Scratch Coding project as well as the Angry Bird and Angry Bird Pig from the Angry Bird lesson plans from Simon Haughton’s site.  These files were in the shared Code Club folder and I showed them how to import them.  We had some technical trouble with this.  Some of them were successful, then suddenly the Sprite could not be imported.  I couldn’t figure out if someone “saved” over the file inadvertently or that too many people were accessing the file and that somehow made it unusable by others.  It happened on both days.  I was prepared the second day and also had the files on a USB drive.

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Angry Birds Space Adventure?

They did like the Angry Bird assets.  And even customized them.screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-6-00-41-pm

I made it a point in the last 15 minutes to ask who had a game I could test out. This took me out of troubleshooting mode and let them share with me their cool, silly, challenging, still in progress games. That’s part of being a club.

I also want to say that my volunteers are great and I couldn’t do this without their help!

Scratch Teacher Accounts

I’m testing out the new Scratch Teacher Account option with the 3rd grade math class that I am working with.

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The class is using Chromebooks so using Scratch 2.0 offline editor was not an option this time. Luckily I knew that Scratch was offering teacher accounts – I was there when they announced it at the Scratch@MIT Conference 2016.

It wasn’t difficult to set up my teacher account. After I was approved, I had to come up with 20 student account names. I wanted ones that had an easy pattern, were easy to spell, remember and would not identify the students in any way.  I chose a “color-Sprite name” pattern, for example “bluegobo”.

Once I had all 20 accounts set up in my class, I printed out the account names, cut them apart, put them in a jar and had the students draw a random one out.  I have recorded their names & account names together in case someone forgets, and for grading.

After we got logged into the Chromebooks and into their accounts, we started with some of the lessons I did last year with 3rd graders (see 3rd Grade Scratch Game Makers).  I introduced drawing their initial with glides on the coordinate grid earlier than last year and they struggled with both their unfamiliarity with the program and with coordinate grids. I was somewhat disappointed with how the lesson went. I did more troubleshooting than I expected. After the hour lesson as over, I thought I would be able to see their projects but I realize now that I can only see projects they share.  I didn’t think we got far enough in the coordinate grid project to have time to talk about sharing their projects.

I missed a week, but their math teacher had them work in their Scratch accounts even with me not there. She had them create a Halloween scene and said she was impressed that they were able log in and to make the Sprites move around.  I’m impressed that she had them do Scratch without me. But it was a perfect segue into our Trick or Treat lesson on decisions in programming.

This time I remembered to save enough time for them to share and show their projects.

I know some of them didn’t feel they had enough time. But everyone enjoyed seeing their project playing out on the front board.

Note: no one noticed (that I heard) that what you type in has to exactly equal the answer for the “if” part to work.