Scratch Work in Progress

Watching 4th graders make their own Scratch games is a blast. My two high school volunteers and I have a lot of fun troubleshooting coding quandaries and generally watching students’ “ah-ha” moments when discovering ways to code their ideas.  They love to show you what they’ve built so far and tell you what’s coming up next.

Last week I used quietAnnie1’s idea to start an Expert list on the board.  Students who wanted to volunteer their Scratch expertise to help other students could put their name on the list.  If other students needed help, they could first ask an expert before putting their name under the Please Help list. This did keep the Please Help list short.

I brought out the microphone for a student and later saw another student had started a Microphone list.  I love that kind of initiative.  (A note about microphones and students:  If you think 20 kids programming together in an after school setting is noisy, just throw a microphone in the mix. It will not help.  Generally Code Club has a productive noisy buzz, but I did have to ask for quieter voices a time or two last week.)

Some interesting games are under development and some good progress has been made.  I’m optimistic that our 2nd showcase will not be as stressful or chaotic as the first.  Time will tell.

Here are a couple of progressing games by new Scratchers:

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Beat this, if you dare

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Maze game

I also had time this week to complete my final project for the “Programming in Scratch” MOOC on EdX by HarveyMuddX. It is a simple adventure game.  It needs some final kid testing, but I’m satisfied with it: Princess Project

Princess Project adventure game

Princess Project adventure game

A-mazing Fresh Start

For the first week of the 2nd session of Code Club, I asked that only the new members come so that we could go over the basics of Scratch. It would help to orient the new coders to Scratch if the “experts” weren’t there.  I planned on going over material the veteran coders had already learned, so they wouldn’t miss anything and the potential for them to distract the new Scratchers would be eliminated.

I thought I would start by teaching the new coders how to make a maze game on day one. It was one of the favorite types of games from the first session.  You learn the commands to control a Sprite using arrow keys and how to check if the Sprite is touching the walls.

Polar Adventure from Showcase #1

Polar Adventure, a maze game, from Showcase #1

Perhaps it was a bit adventurous for the very first time, but with a smaller group I thought Alex, my high school volunteer, and I could handle it.

Dawn of the Day,  maze-type game from Showcase #1

Dawn of the Day, maze-type game from Showcase #1

I also decided to create the instruction sheet myself.  Inspired by Code Club World project resources and Simon Haughton’s Scratch webpage, I customized my own version.

Maze Project #1 – Google Docs

I spent way too much time writing this up, but Alex was psyched just by the fact that I printed it in color.  Color copies are $$ but soooo helpful when learning Scratch because the code blocks are organized and grouped by color.

Alex also brought over a pair of college students, volunteers who are part of Coder Dojo, to help out. It was a spur of the moment sort of thing. I guess there was a code meeting at the high school with poor turn out so they had some extra time to come help us. The more help the merrier. In addition, a couple veteran students didn’t read the calendar carefully, especially the part about only new students the first meeting, and came to our meeting, so I assigned them to be one-on-one helpers. The helper to learner ratio was nearly even.  It was a nice start to the 2nd session and some great coding happened, like the example below.

Obstacle course by a new member with veteran support

Obstacle course by a new member with veteran support