Coding with Microbit

This week, I decided to try out a different program called microbit. Although it is similar to scratch, it has the benefit of being able to switch to javascript which shows the actual coding that is happening. This feature helps me to understand the relationship between the blocks and the written code. 

Similar to the module that we completely last week on scratch, I created another game using step-by-step instructions. This was called “rock, paper scissors“. There were many other lessons to choose from to program the microbit however you want, as well as a section for educators that contains curriculum materials and resources to teach students. 

For the most part, the instructions to the lesson were easy to follow. However, because it was not the most descriptive and mainly showed where to put the blocks through pictures, it took me some time to find which blocks to use. There was one section where I had to create a new block that wasn’t already provided for me, so I spent a while trying to figure this out as the instructions did not state to do this. Overall, I had fun with this program and it’s a great way for students to use their creativity and develop skills in coding to make different games and animations. Click here to watch a video of us playing the game we created!

Password: microbit


Week 7: Sketch Notes, Google Classroom, and Twine

Sketch notes are ideas not art. It consists of visual notes, handwriting, drawings, and visual elements such as arrows. It is similar to a mind map. Sketch noting is good to use because it connects meaning to words which helps recall information later. A study in Waterloo showed that participants that merely copied down word for word notes had a recall of 30% whereas participants that summarized information through shorthanded words and drawings had a recall of 70%. This is because writing is not as fast as typing and forces the participant to summarize which takes more effort to understand. Sketch notes engage the whole mind, verbal and visual! It is a way to take notes in a fun, fulfilling way that allows for creativity. It taps into the visual language and helps students concentration.

The key to sketch notes is to do whatever makes sense personally. This includes the images and verbal cues needed, the fonts, and the pattern in which all the information is organized into.

We also used Google Classrooms. It was my first time using this resource and I found it to be incredibly helpful. I can only think of the possibilities this platform has for classrooms in the future because of the increasing use with technology in schools. It’s an efficient way to share slides, documents, assignments for specific topics within an entire class.

The last platform we worked with this week was Twine. This is an amazing platform that can be used in multiple capacities. It is ideal for creating choose your own adventure stories, or for helping someone choose a product that best suits them. For example, to narrow down specifics of what is desired in a laptop, someone could follow the path to the one that suits their needs best. Students could also use it for other creative outlets such as organizing a DnD campaign. Some key concepts to remember when working with Twine is that the project is stored with cookies. This means that if someone wipes the cookies on a computer all work will be lost. It is important to export the project to a hard drive, like google drive, or email it. Another thing is that it works well with firefox and chrome but not with safari or internet explorer.

This week we worked more in depth with to create a game. I discovered modules that can be dowloaded with checklists for how to create lots of different games. I started with the basic backdrop and the uncoded “sprite,” which is the character that can be coded.

From there, I followed the instructions for what codes should go where. It goes some-what in depth to outline what the code will do. I thought this was a great way to learn more about coding instead of self-discovery because I could see more advanced, multi-step codes and understand how it works. For Example, to add a timer to the side I needed the block “wait 0.1 sec” above the “go up by 0.1.” If the waiting block was not there the time went up significantly faster by 0.1 because it was not waiting 0.1 seconds like normal time would. The game I worked on consists of a boat that travels along the water wherever you move your mouse. The goal is to bring the boat to the island without hitting the wooden structure. It was cool to see the changes that were being made to the game just by adding more steps and controls to the code.

Although the instructions that were given for the module were clear and easy to follow, they seemed to be missing key points and I ran into some complications half-way through when creating a “hit” boat. When the boat goes through the obstacle and hits a wooden structure, it should break into pieces. I created a second boat and gave it a “broken” appearance, however it did not work when we hit the wooden structure. The instructions for this part were vague and so I were unsure whether or not to add controls for the “normal” boat as well as the “broken” boat. After much time and thought, I thought it was best to move on and add more features to the game.

Some of these features I added include a timer to keep track of how long it takes to move the boat to the island, speed bumps to give the boat a bit of a boost, and seaweed to make the boat spin around. Adding these features made the game more fun and complex.

Overall, completing this module was a great learning experience and a lot of fun!! Not only did we learn more in depth about coding patterns but we also had to use our problem solving skills.

All photographs in this post are licensed by Creative Commons