The last Project
At this point, we are making our latest project: the game of Ping Pong. This project is much more complicated than the previous ones: more scripts, programming logic, mathematics, requires planning, organization and a more strict management.
The first difficulty we faced was the fact that most young children has not seen things like divisions or multiplications, do not know what it means the “<” and “>” signs. In other projects, we faced similar problems, but there were not many difficulties in acquiring these skills, this time cost a little more and in my opinion, these concepts are not yet clear.
Another great difficulty was to plan and organize our project. The children wanted to quickly make the game, so they could play it, and they did not think that the prior planning and organization was important. For that reason, the development of the project was very complicated, the kids were bored and wanted to make the game quickly. What we did was to plan and organize the game together in a big paper. I think that if we can integrate and seek a balance between Etoys activities made to plan and organize projects, and use a whiteboard or a big paper to write the planification, can give us very good results. Using only a big paper to do the plan, at least in this case, does not give good results because the children were bored.
When we were building the game, we were doing the scripts step by step, looking the behavior of each object. It took many hours to perform this task, because I had to explain and discuss each point. This game was much heavier than before, because children do not quite understand many concepts, but it was a very good experience.
At the end, in my opinion some things did not go as I imagine, the previous projects were very successful, but this one was very complicated, and basically I felt that this project was becoming a traditional class, a fully conductive class. This was a very useful experience to analyze what happened. The positive thing is that at the end, the kids realized that we need to do prior planning and organization for large projects and to make it easier to perform our projects, that enables us to further work. Do this task, may be is boring, but very necessary. It is for this reason that I thought again that Etoys can make things easier, building specific activities to do the plan of our project, and explaining and improving togheter our plan with a board, making the planning of our project step by step, demonstrating everything in Etoys.
Among the older childrens of the Children’s Home, there are two girls who draw very well, they have a notebook where they like to imagine and draw characters. Also there is anoother girl who likes to write stories.
The intention with this group of girls (12 years old and above), is working to build a story in Scratch (a movie, a short film, an animation or a cartoon) done by them, with their characters, their words, their planning and organization, and of course, their programming.
In this kind of work, converge together many disciplines for creative learning, we touch concepts from history and literature, to drawing and design and ending with mathematical and programming, without taking into account the work of planning and organization required for this work.
A few days ago I was working on a project with a group of artists, with the support of the Mayor of Santa Cruz and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The aim of Mochilarte is learning about art playing. The idea is to fulfill different missions and find clues around the museum to fulfill a goal, knowing and learning in this way about different concepts of art.
After seeing the conference at the Squakfest 2010 of Steve Thomas and Bert Freudenberg, I can see that another great potential of Etoys, is the availability to perform activities when needed, if we need to explain, show or do something, we can simulate it in Etoys. This is what exactly happened with Mochilarte project.
In Mochilarte, among other things, it is necessary to explain the colors and their opposites through the color wheel, to do this, I made a very simple activity in Etoys, so the kids can interact with it. You can download the little activity from here. I was thinking to do other activities for this nice artistic project :-).
In this way you can do more and more activities, both in Etoys or Scratch.