Our final day of Think Camp was wonderful! Our inspirational video today was all about Cardboard Houses. The campers were asked if they would live in a house made of cardboard (as seen in the video). The majority voted yes. The campers who said they would not live in a house made of cardboard has some very valid reasons like whether the home would be truly weatherproof in cases of tornados or hurricanes.
Today, campers wrapped up their work and presented their projects to each other.
Creative Coding Here are some of the creative coding projects from the bits group. Many campers would like to continue their work or make changes. You will need the Scratch Jr. app to open these projects or to create new ones.
The bytes group all have their own login credentials to access their Scratch projects at home. Have your child show you all their hard work. Many campers still have more ideas they'd like to add to their games. If they would like to view the projects of the other campers they can do so here.
littleBits The campers finished their projects with littleBits. Their goal was to “make something that does something.” Creations wowed everyone. We had a lot of cool inventions including a Harry Potter dance machine, a “Pass the Ketchup” machine, a doorbell using CloudBit, pranks with lights and sounds, remote control cars, a remote control robot, robots that show if they feel hot or cold, a robot that has a hug detector that lights up and buzzes when they love you back, a throwing machine, a lamp, a startle box, a smart flashlight, a bubble blower, a house with a doorbell and lights, and scenes with full stories and moving parts. Check out the projects here. Bloxels Game Design Today we posted our finished games and art to the Bloxel’s Infinity Wall. This gave us a chance to play our friends’ designs and use their art for our own creative work. Wilson School Think Camp has it’s own section of the Wall filled with awesome games and creative artwork. Our section is 25, 777. Everything around this coordinate is all a product of Think Camp! Student work will be saved to their Think Camp accounts. They can continue to log in after camp is over. Each account will prompt a parental confirmation screen in the coming days on login. Finally, our friends from Bloxels came by to give us awesome gift bags too! Minecraft The bits are now pioneers of a brave new land! They have carved out their own piece of real estate, expanding from a few wooden huts to a working village. It has been great to see the students improve in all areas this week in Minecraft. They moved from playing individually to working together, sharing resources and helping each other. Their knowledge of crafting in Minecraft improved by building doors, pressure plates, tools, walls and fences. For some it was the first time playing it on a Mac, and they have learned new controls and tactics and in a short amount of time they have grown in leaps and bounds. I hope they have enjoyed the experience and continue exploring in Minecraft! The bytes put all their hard work into practice today by having their castle attacked. They learned that the best defense requires teamwork and strategy. They then switched roles and had to think of different strategies to overcome the other team’s castle and find the treasure! STEM Challenge Today, students were asked to build the highest tower using only balloons and tape. It was a challenging task, especially in learning how to blow up and tie balloons! Our tallest tower was 6 feet 7 inches! It was fun watching teams work, change plans, and vary in their approaches to achieve success.
We want to thank you all for choosing to send your children to Think Camp at The Wilson School. The campers explored, experimented, and collaborated as only Think Campers could. It was a wonderful week!
THURSDAY AT THINK CAMP
Today’s inspirational video was the Coffee Table Refrigerator. We all want it. We discussed how things that make humans lazier are often quite successful. The best part of this discussion was when the campers answered the question, “What two items would you combine to make a new and improved item?” One camper would like to combine a hat with a camera. The camera would take pictures as you go through life and you wouldn’t have to carry a separate device to take photos. Another would like to combine sunglasses and TV, so you can watch shows as you look through your sunglasses. There were many more very interesting ideas as well. Today we added a few more items to Think Centers. We added large building blocks and Osmo Tangrams, Numbers, Words, and Coding kits. STEM Challenge The goal of today’s STEM Challenge was to create a working electromagnet. First, we learned that all electrical fields produce magnetic fields and all magnetic fields produce electrical fields. We also talked about permanent magnets that we can’t turn on or off, or up or down. Based on this, we used copper wire and a battery to produce an electric current. This electric current magnetized a metal nail. Thus making an electromagnet! We used our electromagnets to pick up paper clips and other metal objects. The relationship between electricity and magnetism is important because it provides the energy for almost all of our needs. Creative Coding Today the bits group learned about the elements of games. We discussed how to create different types of games in Scratch Jr. The campers brainstormed ideas for a game in their idea books, and then each bit began designing their own game. It was impressive to see the bits apply concepts from earlier in the week in their projects. We will share the games in our session tomorrow. The bytes group are becoming experts at Scratch. Most of the campers were busy adding the finishing touches to their games that we will share in tomorrow’s session. The exciting part of today was to watch students that just met help one another fix bugs in their code. It was impressive to see the collaboration between students so young. littleBits Electronics Campers put the final touches on their designs today. They are getting ready to present their new creations to the group tomorrow. We will share the photos with you. If you would like a preview, we have robots, interactive houses, remote control devices, a hugging machine, and silly pranks. Bloxels Game Design Today, Bloxels was all about “brains!” In Bloxels, “brains” help us add extra elements of difficulty to enemies that require new strategies to defeat. This is not a simple task, however. To give an enemy “brains” requires us to use a special combination of blocks on our Bloxels board, capture it with our iPads, and import the patterns into the game. The number of blocks in relationship to each other gives the enemies new abilities, like tracking lasers, stealing coins, and super size or speed. Tomorrow, we will share our artwork and completed games on the Infinity Wall for Bloxels players all over the world to play. Minecraft The bits learned that life on the frontier was not so easy. Today I introduced zombies to their world to test how strong their houses and stone walls were. With this new twist the students switched their focus to defense, but at the same time had to collaborate together on their team challenges. A couple of teams have become farmers and one team has moved onto building watchtowers to keep an eye out for threats to their homes. The bytes spent the session working together to complete their castle defenses. A number of different strategies have been used by both groups and it will be interesting to put them to the test tomorrow.
WEDNESDAY AT THINK CAMP
Today’s inspirational video was once again on the topic of plastic. The inventors of the water orbs in the video aim at eliminating the need for plastic water bottles. We all really like the ingenuity of these and most campers think they’d really like to try one. The campers were asked, “What plastic item could you redesign so there is no plastic waste? We had some great ideas shared like yogurt containers made of biodegradable wheat and fabric bags covered in beeswax to make them waterproof, so we no longer need to use plastic bags. Stem Challenge Today’s STEM Challenge was to create the strongest and most aesthetically pleasing bridge. The campers worked in partners to create a bridge that spanned two feet across two desks. They were given only 25 popsicle sticks and 3 feet of tape. The designs were marvelous. The campers who used their tape wisely had an advantage. Those that didn't’ had to take apart what they taped together to salvage some of the tape. Many students planned ahead and laid out several iterations of their designs before they decided on the final one. When we reflected on the experience one camper noted how great it was to work with a partner, so they could share ideas. We tested the strength of the bridges by putting a variety of small vehicles on the bridges. The strongest bridge could hold 9 cars. Wow! Creative Coding The students in the bits group have all become adept as using all the coding blocks available to them in Scratch Jr. They are now able to create their own games and animations. They are doing a wonderful job being creative and solving problems to create their own Scratch Jr. activities. By the end of the week each student will have a project to share with the class. The students in the bytes group have been working hard to create their own Scratch projects. Today they are beginning to see how complicated their coding can become. They are starting to become better at computational thinking, meaning when you change one thing you have to understand how it might change a host of other things in your code. This is quite challenging and I am proud of the students for problem solving. littleBits Electronics Both groups of students continued to refine their designs today. They had to problem solve and work with the littleBits to get to their desired outcome. They have great ideas and and a lot of grit as they design, redesign, and redesign some more. One of the many positive comments from today made by a camper was, “I changed my design. It was hard. But, it is now SOOO much better!” Bloxels Game Design Today in Bloxels was all about decoration and configuration. We talked about how a little bit of detail goes a long way for the experience of a player. We added textures to terrain, turned hazards into lava or poisonous sludge pits, and coins into trophies or other collectable items (even pizza slices). Next, we looked into building backgrounds, which can be in the distance or right behind your hero. Backgrounds, such as cityscapes, add even more to a player experience. Finally, we checked out the Infinity Wall, which holds the artwork and design of creators all over the world. It was really inspiring!
Minecraft Today in Minecraft the bits have completed their wooden houses with automatic doors and have moved onto building a stone wall on the outer perimeter of their settlement. This is important as tomorrow their world will not be safe anymore, the monsters will be here! One team has started becoming farmers, planting crops to build up their food supplies in this harsh environment. Nobody said being a pioneer was easy! The bytes have taken their kingdom defence to the next level, collecting resources, removing all monsters and rebuilding their ruined castle. They are now working on protecting their treasure by creating secret passageways, hidden doors, traps and other surprises to keep it from falling into the wrong hands!
TUESDAY AT THINK CAMP
Today’s inspirational video was all about doing something useful with all the plastic that is being dumped into our oceans. The campers were asked, “What would you make out of the plastic trash in our oceans?” The campers came up with great ideas-everything from iphone cases to building homes. We all hope these kids can make something of this plastic because the video claims by 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Wow!
We also talked about how many attempts it might take you to get to a final product. Josh Stevens, from Pixel Press, the makers of Bloxels, was here to share with us a little about the process and challenges of creating a new product from scratch. The campers were amazed to learn how many times J.K. Rowling and Walt Disney were turned down before creating their famous empires we know and love today.
Think Centers Our time in Think Centers was wonderful today. The students built mazes and challenges for some of the robots to attempt. They had to program the robots properly if they wanted them to complete the mazes. Many students experimented with the Makey Makeys and even played the piano on the bananas. Bloxels was a big hit again and students are really getting into creating their own levels of a game. Our Brain Games with Breakout EDU continues to be highly popular. Students continue to be amazed to see what is inside an old computer we are taking apart. Finally, several of our students took some time to figure out how to program our Pro-Bot to draw several shapes. It was a wonderful accomplishment.
STEM CHALLENGE Today’s stem challenge was to create a Straw Rollercoaster. In teams of 3 or 4, students had 30 minutes to build the longest rollercoaster using straws and tape. They were given either a marble or ping pong ball and had to work out the best gradient for the track, the angle of the corners and the height in which to start from. This involved a lot of trial and error to find a successful model.
Creative Coding The bits group explored some more complicated concepts today. Through their coding they learned that code can be based on conditions. For example, a character might jump only when something bumps into him. They also explored the concept of levels today as they completed a challenge that had them animate the sunset and then a moon rise on the next level.
The Bytes group worked hard to think through everything needed to create a game. They needed to answer questions like:
What is the story in your game?
What problem is getting solved or goal is being met by the player?
What does the player sprite want to touch? What happens when the player touches this sprite or color?
What does the player sprite want to avoid touching? What happens when the player touches this sprite or color?
How does a player win? What happens when the player wins?
The bytes have begun some very creative games using Scratch and I can't wait to play them myself, especially the one that is a comedic version of Star Wars. The campers had to spend some time thinking about the instructions they would like to provide their players as well.
littleBits Electronics The campers had a recap of the functions of littleBits by playing a Kahoot! quiz. Campers were introduced to the “Engineering Process” where they defined a problem, imagined different solutions for that problem, made a plan through sketches with labels, created a prototype to test their design, and adjusted their design by making improvements. Many quickly discovered that this is not a linear process, but one that continues until they develop something that solves the defined problem. They began designing their project that simply "does something." It was wonderful seeing the brainstorming happening by the campers and the redesign process taking place as they created their self-directed projects. So far, we are seeing some advanced alarm systems with buzzing, lighting, and scary faces, a dance party in a box, remote control cars, a smart lamp, and pranks using the cloudBit.
Bloxels Game Design Today we worked on animating our characters and our Bloxels world. We first started with little animations, like having our idle character blink or wave. We didn’t stop there though. We made more complex animations for our idle characters, such as changing colors or more complicated animations for running or jumping. Next, we explored how frame rate affects our animation. Bloxels is really interesting, because it allows us to not just animate characters, but the world itself. For example, we learned that you can animate terrain blocks to get a change in size. Of course, we spent a lot of time iterating our animations and our games. We look forward to finishing and publishing our games on the Infinity Wall this week.
Minecraft Today in the bits group, they all managed to clear enough ground to start building their village. They were much more efficient than yesterday and started thinking as a team rather than as an individual. Using the resources they have collected the past two days, the teams have started building their own unique wooden houses.
Today in the bytes group, the students discussed their objectives before the session. Very quickly one team realised that working together to achieve their goal was more productive and was important to share resources. The other team took longer to come to this conclusion, spending more time gathering resources individually. Once they realised that this strategy was not working they have started working towards their own team objectives.
We are having a great time with these campers and we hope your children are too.
MONDAY AT THINK CAMP
To kick off Think Camp, the campers took a peek at some famous journals - ranging from people like Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, to Taylor Swift. Each camper was then presented their very own Idea Book to include all their wonderful ideas throughout Think Camp. They all agreed that sometimes if you don’t write or sketch your idea it’s gone forever.
Campers were shown two videos that aimed at improving an everyday item. The first video was about a proposed improvement on umbrellas. The campers brainstormed so many reasons umbrellas could use an update. The umbrella in the video is one we think we’d all buy. Then we enjoyed watching a video on an improvement on a dustpan and broom. We all know there are always bits left behind when you sweep. This iteration of a dustpan and broom aims at solving that problem. Once we viewed these videos the students were posed with the question, “What would you do to improve an everyday item?” We shared lots of our creative ideas on our immersion wall.
Each day the campers have a time where they can choose a Think Center. Our centers include:
Bloxels Game Design: Bloxels is a hands-on, brains-on, creativity and technology experience. Bloxels uniquely unlocks kids’ innate creativity by leveraging something they love: video games. Kids can play and create fun games and channel their creative potential as they gain greater understanding of important topics like design logic, and computer science and demonstrate their knowledge of history, science and mathematics and more through the games they create.
Code-a-Robot with Sphero, Dash & Dot: Three different robots that inspire a love of robotics, coding, and STEM principles... all through play.
Brain Games with Breakout EDU: Similar to an escape a room game, “breakouts” teach teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, and troubleshooting by presenting participants with challenges that ignite their natural drive to problem-solve. We have two Breakout Challenges this week. For the bits we have “If You Take a Mouse to Think Camp.” For the bytes, we have “Alien Invasion.” In both games, campers must figure out ways to unlock the central box that contains numerous locks. There are clues hidden all over the room that need to be pieced together. Some are in plain sight, and others are less obvious.
Roaming Bots with Bee Bot and Pro Bot: Award winning programmable floor robots, perfect for teaching control, directional language and programming to young children.
Making with Makey Makeys: It’s an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It's a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything inbetween.
Circuit Works: Build exciting projects such as a flying saucer; alarms; doorbells and much more with Snap Circuits!
What’s Inside?: Use tools to take apart broken electronics and to explore what’s inside.
STEM Challenge of the Day Today’s STEM Challenge was The Marshmallow Challenge. The objective for each group was to construct a tower as high as possible using only 20 pieces of spaghetti, 1 yard of string, and 1 yard of masking tape. The marshmallow had to be placed on the top of the tower. The tallest tower that stood unassisted won. Would you believe the campers go the tower to 26 inches high?
Think Camp Classes Campers also participated in two Think Camp classes today. We have two groups for these sessions. Campers in 2nd-3rd grades are the bits group. Campers in grades 4th-6th are the bytes group. Below you can read about the day’s activities.
Creative Coding The bits group used Scratch Jr. to explore some basic coding concepts. We learned that the sequence of the code really matters. The children put together code that allowed a car to drive across the screen, made characters dance until they disappear, and created an animal race.
The bytes group got started with Scratch today. Scratch is a visual programming language designed for older students by MIT. The campers chose a type of program to start. They could choose art, sports, game design, music, or storytelling. Most of the students chose game design. Campers spent some time thinking through their game ideas and create a game design they will follow while coding this week.
The campers have some great ideas and I can’t wait to see what they have accomplished by Friday.
littleBits Electronics The campers were introduced to littleBits Electronics. In case you are curious, you can watch the What is littleBits? video to see what it is all about. The campers were engaged in design challenges that made them think through how inputs and outputs work together to create different functioning circuits. They also had free experimentation with the littleBits to deepen understanding of what they can do. Through this, campers learned that order matters in a circuit and that each bit has a function. Starting with a battery, wire, and power bit, the campers then found countless number of combinations to make things light up, move, and produce sound. Once they understood the basics of what the bits can do, they were challenged to make something that does something. Some ideas that came up in brainstorming included a “pass the ketchup” machine, a farting robot, a “relaxation station” with a keyboard and fan, a headband that lights up and sings, a way to prank siblings, and a car that honks and yells. We will see where their creativity and knowledge take them!
Bloxels Game Design We had an exciting first day of Bloxels. First, we had an interesting discussion about video games as storytelling. A videogames is story that you play through. So as designers, we had think about a hero, a challenge or conflict, and an ending to our game. We also asked questions like: What makes game fun? What would be a challenging goal? What would be a creative goal?
Next, we completed brainstorming kits. We designed our first character, game map, and storyboard. Using these plans, we built our games on Bloxels boards and imported them to the app. Everyone had a playable game at the end of the day! Tomorrow we are going to work on making animations for our game.
Minecraft The bits group was introduced to the “Pioneers” challenge on Minecraft Education Edition. They were divided into four teams - red, blue, green & yellow and given a series of challenges. Each challenge has to be completed before receiving the next. The students have been asked to wear their team colors this week and have learned that there are still lots more to learn about Minecraft! They are gradually realising that if they stop and think first, it makes life a lot easier. By the end of the session they have started to work together as a team.
The bytes group was introduced to the “Castle Defense” challenge on Minecraft Education Edition. They were divided into two teams - red and blue and given a series of challenges. Each completed challenge provides rewards that allows them to get closer to their ultimate goal - protecting their kingdom! The students have started clearing the castle of zombies and other monsters and have realised it was more difficult if they acted alone rather than worked together. Tomorrow they will work together to rebuild their castle.
Recesses were also a highlight of our day, with lots of creativity and teamwork happening during this time as well. All in all, we had a wonderful start of our week!