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Oct 1 / PK

Using the Scratch Website for Sharing

Last year we only use our computer’s local harddrive for storing student projects. It was not the idea situation. We tried to get everyone the same laptop each week, but that does not always work. It also make “show-and-tell” very hard to do. These older Windows laptops just do not behave well when trying to use thumbdrives with them quickly. (Only if Scratch would work on iPads…)

This year we are going to put all our student and teacher work on the main Scratch website. However, we are a K-6 school, and we do want some level of control of their online activities. So we have setup a group of school assigned user names for each student. Each student is assigned a username for use during the year. We will need to figure out what to do at the end of this year!

Sep 16 / PK

Lego NXT Robot

First, this is not the type of Lego robots that we will be doing at the Scratch Club — sorry kids! This one is much more advanced, and has a much more difficult to use programming environment. Maybe we’ll start a robot club some other year!

This is from a seminar that I went to before school starts, and got some hands on time with the NXT platform. The Lego parts are nice. The programming tools are actually pretty bad, if you use the supplied NXTg environment. If we were to use this, we probably will use RobotC to do the actual programming.

The robot is drawing a figure 8 on the floor in the video, and you can see it did not completely return to the starting position due to drift on the carpet.

Feb 13 / PK

IBM Supercomputer Competes in Jeopardy

IBM built a computer that can play the quiz show Jeopardy! This computer, Watson (named after IBM’s founder) will compete against two champions of the game show this week. This is an opportunity to learn about artificial intelligence — what a computer can and cannot do. The competition will be aired on Feb 14th

Especially for Scratchers, watch this video on how the engineers designed the face and voice of the computer:

Face and Voice of the Watson

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIKM732oEek

General Introduction to Watson

Feb 9 / PK

Lesson 10: Are you smarter than a cat?

Last week we lost another week to Boston Snow days!

This week we are doing our own quiz project. The project have Scratch the cat quiz the user about Math or any topic our scratcher chooses. This lesson focuses on interacting with the user via the keyboard, and how to use the decision making (if) blocks.

This lesson is probably the most “computer science” like project that we have done to date. For an advance scratcher, it will be interesting to see if he or she can actually program a script to generate questions and test for answers, instead of hard coding the questions and answers.

You can download the lesson handout here: smarter_than_a_cat

Jan 27 / PK

Practical Math Learning for a First Grader

This is what I love about Scratch. G is programming a hexbug game. He needed to turn his hexbug some angle to move away when hitting a whall. First graders do not know about angles yet. But give him a protractor, explain how to read the protractor, and he is off figuring out the angle values he needs.