Increasing My Own Coding Abilities…

Part of my role at the elementary school I work, is to support coding in K-4th grades. To better my professional development and enhance my skills, I participated in a virtual course which had several Scratch Challenges. Each day a mini-lesson arrived in my inbox to complete & at the end of the course (30 days), I had completed six different projects. The course was offered from the site CreateCodeLoad (thank you Maytal Bendavid for an awesome course). For $20 it was quite reasonable and manageable. I created [each title will expand to the embedded final project & a link to it on Scratch]:

Each of these projects & associated mini-lessons gave me some inspiration to create a tutorial for building & designing a video game. I was fortunate, timing wise, to be asked by a fourth grade teacher to come up with an activity for her students to complete while she has to be out. The game is basic enough but still offers some ways to get creative for the students. We utilize a platform called Tynker for part of our coding instruction. Tynker has a feature where you can create a tutorial to guide students through coding a project. Instructions can be recorded to auto-play for the students. Video explanations & other Tynker projects can be embedded, too. You are able to insert “code holders” where students can receive the blocks they need to drag out into their workspace. They can then be instructed on how to modify the code to fit certain parameters. Here’s the finished example for what I have called, ‘Pumpkin Bounce Game’:

This link will take you to the version, which has the tutorial created, and walks you through coding your own game, make sure you click on ‘Remix Project’. I found the students were highly engaged in creating their own version of the game. I also set them up at the end of the tutorial with some ideas/suggestions on how to make this more of their own game. By adjusting, in the code, the amount of pixels the “actors” move or adjusting the time in seconds for delays; this can make the game easier or harder for their players. I explained to them that I intentionally placed a “bug” in the game. There is an “actor” called ‘ground’ which allows our ‘pumpkin actor’ to remain in game play according to their “y axis” position, but if the pumpkin goes too far to the left or right (“x axis” position) of the screen, they disappear from the game and cannot return unless the game is reset. I challenged the students to figure out how to “debug” the game so our ‘pumpkin actor’ can’t disappear.

Before my time with the class came to an end, I had a student amaze me with their ideas to further their game. He asked if it could be modified to have two conditional possibilities to lose the game. First, of course, the standard of what they received, if the ‘corn actor’ touches the ‘pumpkin actor’ then the player loses. But they didn’t want the ‘apple actor’ to remain motionless. They wanted to have it chase after the ‘corn’ and if it touches the ‘corn’ before getting touched by the ‘pumpkin’ then the player could also lose. They wanted to know how to begin figuring out how to “chase” the ‘corn actor’. I mentioned that they would need to create variables for the “x position” and “y position” of the ‘corn actor’. That way they can have the ‘apple actor’ glide to those “x” & “y” positions. Here is an example of a student’s creativity being unlocked through coding. I’m intrigued to see where they take their game.

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