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2018 - Term Three - Week Seven - Scratch and Arduino

Welcome back everybody!  We had several interesting projects happening this week.

 

Most of our weekend groups started a big programming project using Scratch (https://scratch.mit.edu).  All our Makers have used Scratch extensively, for programming our Mbots and Arduino’s, but this week we were using it to make a straight computer game.

 

Although Scratch works in a very visual fashion, moving blocks around to create a structure of sequential commands…

 

 

…it is a great way to learn key code concepts for textual languages like Python and C.  The two concepts we explored with this game were ‘broadcasting’ - where one part of a program can communicate with another, and ‘clones’ - where one object within the game can create copies of itself, negating the need to duplicate lots of code.

 

There was a comprehensive folder of instructions available but many of the steps were deliberately a bit vague - encouraging everyone to experiment and work things out for themselves.

 

 

The game is based around our “Hero” sprite having to collect objects while being chased by “Baddies”.

 

 

Although the folder used “Taco” as the objects to collect and “Flaming Cheese” as the baddies,  everyone got to modify their game to their own personal tastes.  The main mechanics or engine of the game stayed the same for all versions.  

 

There were some really interesting ideas coming through and we will finish up these games next week.

 

 

Our Senior group also had a great challenge this week.  Last term they built some Arduino base boards, which consisted of basic modules alongside an Arduino Uno and power supply.  This week they were presented with a small 8 segment LED display to add to their board,  however all they were given was the module itself and the order page from AliExpress (the website they were ordered from).

 

 

Using this information everyone had to research how the module worked, how to connect it to their Arduino and what programming was needed to get it going.  The challenge was accepted quickly and the computers were in action forthwith as everyone started their investigations.  It turns out that this module has a small integrated circuit in each of its LED’s that allows you to access them individually.  This makes for some cool lighting effects.  By the end of the class everyone had their strip working and were rightly satisfied with their efforts.

 

 

We’re going to expand on this concept next term by getting the group to choose their own modules from AliExpress.  We’ll order them and then once they arrive they'll have to repeat this process for the module they’ve chosen.  I can’t wait!

 

Have a great week everybody!