You have probably heard of Scratch, a programming language for kids, that uses blocks to create easy games. Scratch has a cool online editor, so you don’t have to install anything on the computers you’ll use. Additionally it is really easy to understand and kids quickly get the hang of it and start building their own games.
To inpspire younger kids to do fun stuff with technology and science, we have decided to offer them workshops . Our first project was using Scratch. We were really excited that 9 children ages 9-11 came to our workshop and they seemed to have a lot of fun.
So Scratch can be found on scratch.mit.edu. Here you just have to click on the tab “Create”. On the page that now open in the left corner, there is the question mark symbol. By clicking this, you’ll open a window with tutorials.
We decided to let the children choose their own tutorials, because some of them already knew some Scratch. Some children are quite independent for their age, and will just choose something that fits their needs and ask for help. Others need a bit more guidance, you usually have to tell them exactly what to do.
Afterwards it was quite relaxed. We just went from child to child, asking what they were doing. Don’t be afraid to ask them and show interest in their work! By doing this you can not only help them better, but the kids are always proud to be able to show what they have already done themselves.
Hopefully they’ll be back after the holidays. We’ve already started planning something with the Arduino.
In order to discuss strategies in our team and with others at the competition, we have decided to build a 3D-model of the playing field and print it. Some impressions of the progress we have made thus far will follow.
One thing that is really useful when praticising is an app to keep track of the score. This year our programmers wanted to test out their skills and give back to the FIRST community. That is why we are currently developing a scoring application.
Today we have achieved a simple app, where you can click buttons to score every element. The number of elements scored is shown, as well as the total score, which is calculated in real time.
However the UI is a bit ugly and there some functionality is missing.
Today we met to write letters to sponsors. We have created a Google Spreadsheet for better management, where everyone notes the business they have written to, as well as the date. Our letter is standardised as well, but there are some tweaks, to make it feel more personal, like adding the product of the business.
Working for hours we have achieved to write more than 100 sponsors. We hope that some of them will answer to our requests.
Here is an idea that Alexis had for putting the fuel-cubes into the combustion-plant.
Our robot builds a bridge between itself and the combustion-plant using a rope. Then the robot extends above that of the plant. If the rope is taut, the cubes can slide down this bridge straight into the plant.
The kit arrived finally arrived the day after our finals were over. Perfect timing! We were already looking forward to the unboxing but we had to wait for Friday because we wanted everybody to be present.
(But we did check out the list of parts included in the kit before that, it was too hard to resist the temptation)
All in all, we like this kit a lot better than last year’s. Most things are in greater quantity and we were especially happy to find that the amount of UHMWPE cord has been raised – no need to take the cord apart this year!
But of course, we also had fun working together. Ordering a pizza and adding the carton to our collection is a must (it shows just how many long days we spent in school building robots over the last year).