Saturday October 8th saw us back at the Coder Dojo. Again my 12 year old son, 8 year old daughter and 7 year old niece made the trip. After the success of the Scratch session last week, I offered to take some of the group to learn some more about Scratch. The plan was that I would take the younger group and go through some more of the basics with them. I thought that, based on the numbers from last week, I would have maybe 6 or 7 for Scratch while Mark and Eugene took the rest of the group to learn about programming in Python. We moved to a new location for the Coder Dojo this week as the numbers have been growing so this weeks Dojo was in the LIT’s Downtown Centre in George’s Quay in Limerick. This worked really well for us as we had two rooms side by side which could accomodate both groups.
By the time we got everyone settled we had about 12 for Scratch, ranging in age from 7 to about 14, with a similar number for Python. My plan for Scratch for this week was to work through the ‘Broadcast’ and ‘Receive’ blocks with the aim of getting the children to create a cartoon where two characters ‘talked’ to each other. We started by creating our characters and background – for some people this involved drawing their own characters and backgrounds, and for others it involved taking existing characters and making some changes to them. At this stage some of the kids were working on their own while others worked in pairs. There was lots of chatting as they decided on what characters they wanted and how they might create them. Some of the artwork created can be seen below:
Once we had the characters and backgrounds I showed how we might get characters to say something to each other using the ‘Say’ block but we saw that the characters were talking over each other. So we next looked at the broadcast and receive blocks which allowed one character to broadcast a message and the other character to receive the message and do something based on the message. This allowed us to get the characters to ‘talk’ to each other as you can see in the code below:
The remainder of the time was spent by the children getting their animations working. What was great to see was that the older children incorporated the broadcast and receive into their animations but they also got the characters to move etc. This is what I love most about Scratch – give a group of students the same tools and they all take it in different directions, based on their interests and understanding of the concepts involved. It was also great to see the children moving around having a look at what the others were doing and helping each other out to get something working. Finally, like last week, the groups had to show their animation and talk about how they did what they did. Have a look at the Scratch Gallery I created for the games/animations created on Saturday: http://scratch.mit.edu/galleries/view/140045.