Monday, 25 May 2015

Ghost in the machine

video

Introducing the solution to one of the most difficult puzzles on 'PoopScoop'.

Ghost in the machine initial situation.  Your job, scoop the four poops, but first you must move the crates out of the way.


right
forward 2
right
forward 2
left
forward 4
push
flip
jump
forward 3
right
forward 2
left
forward 2
push
right
pull
reverse 1
left
forward 3
right
forward 1
jump
forward 1
jump
forward 2
right
forward 3
jump
forward 2
right
forward 1
jump
forward 1
left
forward 1
right
forward 2
left
forward 2
push
left
pull
reverse 1
left
jump
forward 3
right
forward 2
left
forward 2
push
right
forward 1
pull
pull
reverse 1
left
forward 3
right
forward 1
jump
forward 1
jump
forward 2
right
forward 3
jump
forward 2
right
forward 1
jump
forward 1
left
forward 1
right
forward 2
left
forward 2
push
left
forward 1
pull
pull
reverse 1
left
jump
forward 3
right
forward 2
left
forward 2
push
right
forward 2
//repeat loop
repeat 3
{
     pull
}
end
reverse 1
left
forward 3
right
forward 1
jump
forward 1
jump
forward 2
right
forward 3
jump
forward 2
right
forward 1
jump
forward 1
left
forward 1
right
forward 2
left
forward 2
push
left
forward 2
//repeat loop
repeat 3
{
     pull
}
end
reverse 1
left
jump
forward 3
right
forward 2
left
forward 2
push
right
forward 3
//repeat loop
repeat 4
{
     pull
}
end
reverse 1
left
forward 3
right
forward 1
jump
forward 1
jump
forward 2
right
forward 3
jump
forward 2
right
forward 1
jump
forward 1
left
forward 1
right
forward 2
left
forward 2
push
left
forward 3
//repeat loop
repeat 4
{
     pull
}
end
reverse 1
left
jump
forward 3
right
forward 2
left
forward 2
push
right
forward 4
right
forward 1
scoop
reverse 2
scoop
forward 1
left
reverse 6
left
forward 3
right
forward 1
jump
forward 1
jump
forward 2
right
forward 3
jump
forward 2
right
forward 1
jump
forward 1
left
forward 1
right
forward 2
left
forward 2
push
left
forward 4
left
forward 1
scoop
reverse 2
scoop

Monday, 18 May 2015

Kids playtest LitterPik

LitterPik - a simple programming puzzle game from superdecade games.
LitterPik and PoopScoop are two programming games designed to introduce kids to the basics of programming.  In order to solve each level you must give Robot a list of commands (a computer program) which he will faithfully execute.  Each level involves differing amounts of jumping, rotating, pushing and pulling obstacles, as well as negotiating magnets and deadly pools of water.  There is even a level designer.

Here are some nice things said about LitterPik and PoopScoop by some 7 and 8-year-old children:




Head over to the PoopScoop and LitterPik pages now.


Thursday, 7 May 2015

Lessons learned from lino

I have been experimenting with lino in the classroom.  Lino provides an online collaborative noticeboard in which you and your students can post 'stickies' (think post-it notes).  I have used it as a collaborative space for year 7 students to share ideas for a project and by year 11 students as a revision board.  It could be used as a noticeboard for class announcements, share links, videos etc, or anywhere you have the need for a community noticeboard.

GCSE Computing student revision noticeboard

Features of Lino.

  • No login required.
  • Visitors can post stickies.
  • Your canvas can be private; available to anyone this the link; or public (list on Lino).
  • Post stickies by email.
  • A fairly wide range of canvas backgrounds including adding your own background image.
  • Several different coloured stickies, including transparent. 
  • Supports RSS feeds.
  • Multiple canvasses.
  • Android and Apple apps available as well as the web app.


Lessons learned from using Lino.

  • As with all collaborative technology, students may feel the need to troll each other, or go off task.  You need to be prepared for this and allow them to get this excitment out of their system before they begin to respect it as a useful collaborative tool.
  • Students may feel the need to create their own accounts and set up their own boards.  This should be encouraged however there are safety issues you should discuss with the students and the privacy settings shown below should be explained.
  • Once you have finished with a canvas, you can lock it to 'show stickies to everyone' (but other people cannot post.  This will prevent trolling.
  • You need not list your canvas as a public canvas.  Make sure you deselect this as it is selected by default (naughty Lino).
Carefully choose your canvas settings.



#edtech
#education
#noticeboards
#collaboration

Monday, 4 May 2015

Destroy The World

Just because I am feeling that way inclined, a series on links to various simulators that let you cause simulated damage to this fragile planet.  #pollution #impact #nuclearwar #flooding

Breathing Earth


This simulator by Volnaiskra shows estimated birth and death rates across the planet, including CO2 emission rates. The data comes from various sources including the CIA and the United Nations. Hover over a country for more information.

Impact Earth


Feel the need to hurl rocks at the Earth?  Impact Earth written by Gareth Collins, H. Jay Melosh and Robert Marcus for Purdue University lets you do just that.  Set the diameter, density, angle of trajectory and velocity, as well as your distance from the impact and stand back and watch the chaos.  The app comes with loads of presets as well.  Need to know what happens when you fire a whale at the Earth?  The answer is here.

Nuclear Darkness



Nuclear Darkness by Alan Phillips is an exploration of nuclear war (read 'nuclear disaster').  Choose a location and weapon type and this app calculates the destruction.  All world leaders should see this site.

The data and algorithms used to create these simulations are based on information found in "The Effects of Nuclear Weapons", 3rd Edition, by Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan.  Also the work of Dr. Alexander Montgomery and Dr. Lynn Eden.

Once you have finished playing with the simulator, there is a wealth of information on the effects of nuclear war, simulations, infographics and more.

Flood Map


Set your location and sea level with this app.  See the damage.  Have fun creating the United Islands of America.

From the creators:
"Flood Map application is a small contribution using our programming skill towards the fight against natural disaster like flood & probably save a life."

Friday, 1 May 2015

Kids create logos

I asked my year 8 class to design a logo for their imaginary company.  They went online and found some of the following free web apps for logo creation with made designs with some considerable success.  I've rated them here in terms of their availability and ease of use.  #logos #education

Logo garden
Logo garden front page

Very easy to use interface.


A really great site.  Very easy to use, change font, add colour etc.   Loads of presets to choose from.  Undo function is a real bonus.  No sign-in required so very useful for school projects.
Rating 5/5

DesignMantic

Maybe it will work again one day?

I've seen some great results from this site - with some really professional-looking logos created effortlessly and intuitively.  Unfortunately I could not get it to work in Chrome as I write this post.  What a shame!
Rating 1/5

Textcraft

An old favourite.

We really like Textcraft.  This web app allows you to create Minecraft style logos with relative ease.  There are loads of different blocky fonts to choose from and you can have up to three lines in your logo.  Really like the transparency feature as well.  Also, no sign-in required.
Rating 5/5

Logo Maker

Type in your brand name...

Loads of Logos generated.


Once you have selected a preset - you can use an intuitive interface to modify the design.

Register your account with your Google account and then receive the heart-breaking news that this free app is not free at all and you have to pay 15 quid for your own work.  What a shame.
Rating 0/5


Cooltext
Choose from loads of preset designs.

Easy to use modification tools.


We really like Cooltext.  Simple and effective and no sign-up required.

Rating 5/5




Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Girls rate Code Combat

I introduced a class of year nine girls to Code Combat today, and asked them to review it for me.  Is it good?  Is it too hard/too easy?  Is it for boys only?

The students have already had some experience of Scratch, Gamemaker, Alice and the like, but this was their first exposure to Code Combat- a game in which you learn python programming by solving puzzles, all set in a child-friendly fantasy world.  I first reviewed it last month.  #CodeCombat #CodingInSchool



I asked the girls to send me a review. Here is what they said:
It was okay, the navigation steps could have been more precise.
Better if the coding would be shorter ( too complicated) overall an pretty decent game.
Personally, I don’t not like this game as I find it boring. I do not like typing as it wastes time, I would much rather click on arrows and I would find myself enjoying it that little bit more. However, the graphics and quality of the game was very impressive!
I generally enjoyed the game and even if I didn’t understand certain parts I quickly caught up! #CombatCode4Lyfe ;)
I enjoyed the game because it wasn’t too hard, but some parts were a bit confusing. The game is a bit weird but it’s quite fun. #combatcode4lyfe
I think the game is a good and practical game which is educational for learning coding. However, I think it is quite boring and the prizes are awful!
It was average but could do with more different themes e.g. a wonderland, a farm or a school and the character could do more interesting.
I thought this game was very good and once you start to play it, you feel as if you have to finish all the levels!
I thought it was a really fun game! It gets interesting once you get into the game! I reckon its worth a try!
Really fun, not much of a challenge, banterous, fun once you get into the swing of things, very addictive
Good, entertaining, could be more challenging but I like it as it is. Slightly addictive, fun and easy to follow.
Better than coding a game. This lesson has been better that what we have been doing all year. It’s an ok game?! I enjoyed what I played but I wouldn’t play it again unless we could play it instead of coding in our ICT lessons. J ~combatcode
I think that the Code Combat game is really enjoyable, at times it can get a bit repetitive, but overall a brilliant game.
I enjoy this game but I find it a bit tedious because there is loads of typing and it’s quite hard. But as a summary I think it will appeal well to younger people as it is cartoony and interesting!! #COMBATCODE4LYFE JJJ
It was quite boring but would be quite good for learning how to code. Maybe have different levels not just a castle.
I found the game ok but sometimes I did not understand it
I thought it was alright, a bit annoying though.
The games was ok but I kept dying which was annoying as I lost all my lives a lot.
Alright…I guess…bit annoying & repetitive but was ‘banterous’  Fun once you get into it, great time kill though… J

A few things I noticed as the girls worked through the levels:


  • Moving from drag-and-drop programming languages to languages where you type full commands was a culture shock to many girls.
  • Many students ignored the features of the game such as claiming rewards for completing puzzles, or the tutorial help features.  One student chose to type her code out three times rather than learn how to perform iteration, and wasn't bothered about missing out on the bonus points for not doing so.


  • The girls categorically denied that the game was for boys only.

The average rating for Code Combat by the girls was 3.2 stars out of 5. 

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Launch alert

We are getting ready to go to space!

Click the image to launch.

At 12:00 noon (UK time) on Friday the 1st May, we will launch Proxima, the first web-based, hypothetical, light-speed space voyage.  Proxima will travel through the solar system at 300,000,000 m/s visiting the orbits of every planet in the solar system before altering course and making a bee-line for Proxima Centauri.

Even at the speed of light, the voyage will take over four years.

Project Proxima is a teaching tool and time capsule, designed to help explain the vastness of interstellar space.  You can follow Proxima using the hashtag #ProjectProxima, or the Twitter profile @proximaspace.

Over the following four years follow Proxima as it crosses the Oort Cloud and clears the Heliopause, then join the celebration as we finally reach the Sun's nearest neighbour.

"The stars, my destination" - Alfred Bester.


Project Proxima - from Leeds to Proxima Centauri

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Photos of my travels #003

#Malham Cove and Janet's Foss in #Yorkshire (God's country) from the 18th April 2015.

The Buck Inn. One of two good pubs in Malham (don't expect much in the way of vegetarian food here though, go round the corner to the Lister).

You don't see these much these days

Malham Cove.
Anyone else see this, or is it just me?


It's a challenge.

Near the top.

Steps up to Malham Cove.

Rocks!

The pavement (that's 'sidewalk' if you are American).

I love this photo.

Dinosaur bones (sort of).

Dry stone walls and sheep.

Jantet's Foss (poor Janet, couldn't spell 'waterfall')

From Janet's Foss on a sunny spring day.

Nom nom nom

D'aw!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Create your own solar system

Project Proxima, the hypothetical voyage from Leeds to Proxima Centauri, launches in two weeks today, so we will celebrate with some more space-related posts.

Here we look at solar system simulators.  

As you might expect from PhET, this simulator is pretty good.  You can choose from a number of preset conditions including binary stars with planets, slingshots, ellipses etc.  Plenty of fun can be had by changing the mass, position and velocity of the preset conditions, or just play God and make your own.

The 'Slingshot' chosen from one of many presets.

Solar System Builder
A nice and simple solar system simulator.  Create planet trajectories by clicking and dragging.  Feel the need to hurl Jupiter at the inner solar system to see what happens - no problem!

Pick up Jupiter and hurl it at the inner solar system.


Planet Families
Planet Families from the Space Science Institute is a sandbox universe for you to simply drop your planets in an watch it go.  Planetary collisions are accompanied by satisfactory sound effects.

Drag, drop then watch them crash and burn.  Good stuff.


Solar System Builder - Building the Known Universe
This Solar System Builder from The National geographic is as good as they come.  One nice feature is the ability to set the camera to follow any one of your solar system objects.

Fully customised planet construction.

Solar System Maker
The solar system maker mrnussbaum.com is suitable for children aged 8 to 11.  It does not quite have the same sophistication with regards to its Physics, however fun can be had by designing and printing your own solar system.

Create new planets to your own design and given them a name.

Solar System builder in Scratch
Here is a solar system simulator built using the excellent MIT Scratch.
Solar systems built in Scratch

I hope you enjoyed these solar system simulators.  If you did, then you might like to follow Project Proxima:

From Leeds to Proxima Centauri

Project Proxima is a hypothetical voyage to our nearest stellar neighbour - Proxima Centauri.  The spacecraft, Proxima, can travel at the speed of light and is set to launch in 16 days (on the 1st May 2015).  #ProjectProxima #Science #Space

Followers can track the progress of Proxima's four year voyage on the website and through Proxima's Twitter page @proximaspace.  You can sign-up to become a registered follower to get your name on the website, and receive news via email.

Proxima will travel at the speed of light from Earth to Proxima Centauri taking it on a path that first visits the inner solar system and the sun. It will then continue through the solar system until it is far beyond the outer reaches of the Oort Cloud, the depths of interstellar space and then finally, in four years time, it will reach Proxima Centauri (in 2019).

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

100,000 stars

Today's countdown to the Project Proxima launch introduces 100,000 Stars, an interactive visualization of the stellar neigbourhood created for the Chrome browser. It shows the real location of over 100,000 nearby stars. Zooming in reveals 87 major named stars and our solar system and Oort cloud.  Zooming out reveals an artist's rendition of the whole galaxy.

Launch 100,000 stars now.

The closest stars to the Sun.  Drag, zoom and explore this 3D simulation.

So much to explore.

Our stellar neighbourhood.

An artist's rendition of the galaxy.  Rotate through 3 degrees of freedom.

Some of the 87 named closest stars.  Clicking zooms in to beautiful close-up detail.


From Leeds to Proxima Centauri

Project Proxima is a hypothetical voyage to our nearest stellar neighbour - Proxima Centauri.  The spacecraft, Proxima, can travel at the speed of light and is set to launch in 16 days (on the 1st May 2015).  #ProjectProxima #Science #Space

Followers can track the progress of Proxima's four year voyage on the website and through Proxima's Twitter page @proximaspace.  You can sign-up to become a registered follower to get your name on the website, and receive news via email.

Proxima will travel at the speed of light from Earth to Proxima Centauri taking it on a path that first visits the inner solar system and the sun. It will then continue through the solar system until it is far beyond the outer reaches of the Oort Cloud, the depths of interstellar space and then finally, in four years time, it will reach Proxima Centauri (in 2019).

Time until Launch: