2018 Term One - Week Four - DIY & Scratch

It was a quieter session for most of our groups this week as we spent time working on the computers with “Scratch”.


Scratch is a very useful tool as many of the hardware platforms we have (Micro:Bits and MakeBlock) use Scratch (or something very similar) to code and control them.  It has a beautiful, graphical, easy to understand interface, avoiding the traditional idea of printf(“what coding looks like %c \n”,ch)


We have some boxes of Scratch cards that step people through the basics and in the process you get to build some interesting projects:


The older groups also got to learn how you can use a webcam to interact with sprites through motion control and sound level:





Most kids have come across Scratch already but there were a few parents that were new to it.  Scratch was developed by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) as a simple entry level environment for kids to learn the basics of coding.  It’s entirely free and if any of the kids (or parents) want to explore more it can be found here:


Once you create a project you can share it with others on the website and a great way to discover what is possible with Scratch is to explore other people’s work.  You can “see inside” any project to discover how it functions.


One of the main people behind Scratch is Mitch Resnick.  A few years ago he did a Ted talk on his work with Scratch which is worth checking out:





Mitch also heads a group called the “Lifelong Kindergarten Group” which encourages learning through what he calls the four ‘P’s’ - Projects, Peers, Passion and Play.  In the video below he talks about some of the ideas behind his philosophy.  I actually think in NZ we have a fantastic Primary Education System that already acknowledges many of these values!





The “Guinea Pigs” have started a new piece of work incorporating something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.  Since starting Stem Club I’ve looked to move our kids towards working on projects they’ve chosen themselves.  Fortunately there are some good mechanisms available online that make this more achievable.  We’ve started using DIY.org which has hundreds of challenges categorised into a badge system.  Complete 3 challenges within one badge and you earn that badge, complete 6 and you earn mastery of that skill.  The badges cover a wide range of disciplines from “Archer”, “Rocketeer”, “Bitster”, “Baker”, “Circuit Bender” to my personal favourite “Grown Up”.  To earn your “Grown Up Badge” you can choose from things like “Discuss the economy”, “Make a 5 year plan”, “Dress for success” or “Use Leftovers to Make Dinner”.  You upload pictures or video of you completing the challenge and once that’s verified you get awarded that badge.


Anyway - the “Guinea Pigs” all chose their projects last week so this week we had a great session as everyone tackled their chosen skill.


First they all had to learn what was involved in completing their challenge - taking notes from the online video or instructions:


Then heading off to work on their challenge.  We had a couple of “Architects”…



…working alongside our “Solar Engineer”…



…while through in the Workshop we had our “Rocketeer”:



It was awesome!  We’ll be doing more next week and hopefully a lot more beyond that!


Have a great week everyone!