Today we talked about 3D printing and how it is fun, but takes a long time to make even tiny little things. We then watched this video about a new kind of 3D printing. This 3D printer uses concrete to building single story affordable homes in 24 hours. The campers were wowed, especially when comparing this home to the EcoCapsule from earlier this week. This truly seems like an idea that would help so many people in the world. The campers were asked, What type of building would you 3D print? Who would it help? Most campers still wanted to print homes for people, but some wanted to print buildings that would help animals, such as a rescue center or vet.
We have just an absolutely wonderful week! It has been amazing to watch children who just met this week to come together and work collaboratively and effectively in so many areas. Today, they spent time in each class sharing their projects and giving each other feedback about the process. We are so proud of all of their hard work!
Creative Coding Both Bits and Bytes are becoming experts at Scratch. Today most of the campers were busy adding the finishing touches to their games that we shared at the end of our 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.
The Creative Coders all have their own login credentials to access their Scratch projects at home. Have your child show you all of their hard work. Many campers still have more ideas they'd like to add to their games. If you would like to view the projects of the other campers click on the links below. Bytes' Scratch Projects
littleBits The campers finished their projects with littleBits. The byte’s goal was to “make something that does something.” The creations wowed everyone. The bit’s goal was to build then hack their playhouse with littleBits. We had a lot of fun creating and playing! View all their projects here.
Bloxels Game Design Today’s Bloxels class was a lot of fun. Both groups spent the first half of class putting finishing touches on their games. They made sure everything was decorated and configured correctly, so the player would have the best experience playing their game. Then we shared our games on the public Infinity Wall, where all Bloxels game designers post their work. We spent most of the second half of our class playing each others’ games. Everyone had a finished game to share, and they enjoyed having their fellow designers play their games.
Minecraft Today in the bits group, both teams had the opportunity to test out each other’s roller coaster creations! Each group showed a lot of flair and creativity and had fun riding the rails!
Today in the bytes group, each team tested out the maze’s ingenuity and traps. They realized that it was easier to create a maze than to find their way through one!
Thursday, June 14th
Today’s video helped spark a conversation on what life would be like if we needed to use a wheelchair. The Firefly Wheelchair accessory makes a lot of sense. We spent some time thinking about how we could improve life for those in wheelchairs. The campers were asked, What would you change about the Firefly Wheelchair? Can you think of another way to improve wheelchair use? Once again they had terrific ideas. They thought wings or something to make the wheelchair airborne would be a good addition. They also thought adding some sort of invisible forcefield would be helpful so nothing that comes near the person or the wheelchair would harm them. One very wise camper thought a seatbelt should be added, particularly if it went airborne or at higher speeds. A very inventive camper thought some sort of automatic door opener should be added to the wheelchair. Another thought a lift of some sort should be added so wheelchair users could be at the same height as people not using wheelchairs. Finally, another thought solar panels should be added to power the wheelchair. There were so many good ideas today!
STEM Challenge Today’s STEM Challenge was Building an Umbrella to Protect Baby Superman from the Crypto-rain. Using a collection of materials (paper cups, tape, playing cards, rubber bands, pencils, pipe-cleaners, and cotton balls) campers worked in pairs to build an umbrella that would stand over a miniature Superman and a small wood block used to keep his feet dry. Then the teacher poured 100 ml of “Crypto-rain” (dyed water) through a colander. If Baby Superman stayed dry, the group won the challenge. Many teams were successful, but all had fun.
Creative Coding The bits group were introduced to Scratch today. Scratch is a visual programming language designed for students by MIT. In Scratch, sprites (objects) are manipulated on the stage (background) using various scripts (small program segments). Each sprite has its own set of scripts to control its behaviors and how it interacts with other sprites and events. Programming consists of snapping together individual blocks of preexisting actions to create a script. A program can be as simple as a single block or consist of multiple blocks stacked together that will run as a unit. Campers explored Scratch, and began to create animations. They had a blast. Don’t be surprised if your child is asking to work on their Scratch project at home.
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 videos with you of finished projects. To give you a sense of what we have accomplished in the bytes, some of the projects you will see are a soccer game, Broadway stage, remote controlled car, and action figures from Fortnite. In the bits group, we have a haunted house, a fun house, a nice house in China, and a home with a pet dragon. The bits are excited about the many electric working parts of their homes and a favorite is the doorbell prank. We are having fun letting our imaginations push our thinking and tinkering.
Bloxels Game Design Today, the bits group added some extra complexity to their video games. They used the Bloxels board to create “brains” for their enemies. Adding brains to each enemy allows the game designer to customize each enemy by changing their difficulty, speed, size, and makes them able to earn a reward for defeating the enemy. This was especially useful when trying to make their end boss. The class appreciated the ability to make enemies larger on the screen. Tomorrow we will finalize our games, share them on the Infinity Wall, and play each other’s games.
The bytes continued working to get their games to relate to the games from the other members of their group. They are realizing that creating video games with other people is a challenge, but they have some great ideas of how to make their games part of a larger collective series. Tomorrow we will finalize our games, share them on the Infinity Wall, and play each other’s games.
Minecraft Today in the bits group, both teams had to work really hard to complete as much of their theme park as they could as tomorrow they will be testing each other’s roller coasters!
Today in the bytes group, each team focused on their final rooms in the maze to make it harder to make it to the end. They troubleshooted their maze to make sure that it can be completed successfully. Tomorrow they will test their creations!
Wednesday, June 13th
Today we watched a video about a new form of housing called an Ecocapsule. We talked a little bit about how there is a lack of housing in some areas of the world and how there is definitely a space issue in some locations as well. The Ecocapsule is certainly an interesting idea, though not entirely cheap enough. The campers were asked, Would you live in an Ecocapsule? What would you add to it? We had some really interesting and fun answers. The campers all said they would live in it, but they had a lot of things they would add. First of all, they would locate it somewhere interesting like Scotland or the beach. They would add things like wings so it could fly to other locations, wheels so you could drive it places, an XBOX, a TV, a charging station, a staircase to the outdoors with storage underneath, and a greenhouse to grow your own food. The campers are getting so good at coming up with ideas and sharing them freely.
Stem Challenge Today’s STEM Challenge was the LEGO Maze. Using a 10” x 10” baseplate students were challenged to create the longest, trickiest maze possible using LEGOs. This open ended challenge allowed students to show their creativity and flair to demonstrate the endless possibilities in this task. Students then timed themselves on each other’s mazes to see which maze took the longest to complete.
Think Centers We added some large building blocks and a marble run to our centers today. We also worked hard to get some of our robots to do some new skills, like playing the xylophone and throwing and catching balls.
Creative Coding The students in the bits group have all become adept at 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 showed a lot of grit as they design, redesign, and redesign some more. Campers have been working hard to get parts to work in order to push their creations. Bytes worked on making something that does something and Bits worked on creating interactive homes.
Bloxels Game Design Both groups continued to work on adding a story element to their game. They needed to develop a final objective or end boss for their game. By the end of the class today, the bits had two fully decorated and configured rooms and at least one story block. The story block gives the opportunity to provide directions to the player and tell the story as the player moves through the game. The bytes learned how to add “brains” to their enemies in order to make them larger, harder to defeat, and provide a bonus for defeating them. This was especially useful for their final boss.
Minecraft Today in the bits group, both groups started to really focus on their challenge. The red team created features in their jungle and desert biomes and started working on their water biome. The blue team started adding large characters to their movie theme park. Spiderman, Minions and Transformers were built today. Today in the bytes group, each team started sharing ideas, researching new tricks and are collaborating very well. There are lots of hidden surprises. Each team will get to explore each other’s maze on Friday!
Tuesday, June 12th
This morning the campers took a peek at some famous journals - ranging from people like Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, to Taylor Swift. We discussed how each person, no matter what their interest, used a journal/idea book in their own way. But, we all agreed that sometimes if you don’t write or sketch your idea it’s gone forever.
Today’s video really got our campers thinking. We watched this video about Tarmac, a new concrete material that can absorb water quickly. The campers were asked, Where would you use this concrete? Why? They had so many wonderful ideas. They thought we should use it in basements, in driveways, in flood prone areas of India, at the bottom of hills, on roads to reduce slippage, and more.
STEM CHALLENGE In today’s challenge, campers had to build a pyramid with plastic cups and place a Lego man on top. The catch was that they could not use their hands! Working in groups of 3-4, they were given the following tools to make this happen: straws, string, rubber bands, and cotton balls. It was exciting to see all the creative ways they worked together to solve today’s challenge.
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?
littleBits Electronics The bytes 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. 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. Many found that their prototype did not work as imagined and had to redesign their circuit. Campers quickly discovered that this is not a linear process, but one that continues until they develop something that solves the defined problem and functions as imagined.
The bits began to design a littleBits City. They used large boxes to make a town. Some built houses that connected, and others were nearby neighbors. Some have created houses that are located in China, homes with secret passages, and all made doors that open and close. Tomorrow they are going to add littleBits and start making things that work. Ideas include doorbells, lights, a piano, and even a fun house full of pranks for their guests. They were very creative and we are all very excited to see what will be created by the end of the week.
Bloxels Game Design Both groups began thinking of a story to tell with their game. They thought of other games that tell a story as the main character moves through the levels/rooms. Then, they had some think time to develop their own story to tell through the creation of their Bloxels game. The Bits developed an independent story for their games. The Bytes had to discuss the stories with their partners so the games will be related to each other. We will continue developing this tomorrow.
Towards the end of our session today, both groups learned how to use story blocks and checkpoints as a way to tell the story and give the player directions and objectives. Then, they learned how to decorate their game to make it look like a real game and to add challenges for the player. They learned the difference between animations and boards when decorating and thought about how to effectively tie rooms together. Tomorrow we will continue to develop our stories and we will think backwards from the final objectives.
Minecraft Today in the bits group, the red team worked together on a jungle and desert biome. They are working on putting the finishing touches with some large scale creations. The blue team finished their movie theatre and are working on movie characters to add to their theme park.
Today in the bytes group, each team realised that working together to achieve their goal was more productive. They have divided themselves into smaller groups to work on different traps and are testing out their creations. The students are sharing ideas, researching new tricks and are collaborating very well.
Monday, June 11th
We were so happy to kick off Think Camp this week with a bunch of energized kids! They were ready to get right down to the business of thinking. Each day we show a video meant to inspire the campers and pose a question about it to make them think. Today’s video was the hand pillow. We’ve all tried to sleep in a car or on a plane and it is not easy. The hand pillow aims to solve that problem and make sleeping anywhere comfortable and easy. The campers were asked, What would you invent to help people sleep better? The campers had so many great ideas. Some that were shared were inflatable shoulder pads that could pop up and help you sleep when needed, teeny tiny fans that go around your head on a band to keep you cool while sleeping, and a car that had the insides made of pillow type material.
Think Centers Each day the campers have a time where they can choose a variety of Think Centers. 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. The campers can make Dash and Dot draw, play games, navigate mazes, play the xylophone and more!
Brain Games with Breakout EDU: Similar to an escape 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 “Number Ninjas.” For the bytes, we have “Attack of the Lock (Star Wars Theme).” 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 in between.
Build. Design. Solve: Campers use manipulatives, such as gears, K’Nex, and Zoob to design and build.
Osmo: Osmo enables the iPad to merge the power of physical play with the digital advantages of real-time feedback. Playing beyond the screen invites kids to collaborate on tables or floors while manipulating tangible game pieces such as number tiles, letter tiles, and coding blocks.
What’s Inside?: Use tools to take apart broken electronics and to explore what’s inside.
STEM Challenge of the Day Campers participated in the Straw Boat Engineering Challenge today. Working in pairs, campers were given ten straws, three inches of duct tape, and ten inches of plastic wrap. The challenge was to use only the given materials to build a boat that could hold 25 pennies without sinking. While many boats sank quickly with 25 pennies, one boat held 45 pennies and another held 35 before sinking. After testing the boats, the campers discussed what they learned about construction and engineering during the challenge.
Think Camp Classes Each camper 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 the bytes group 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 broadway theater with song, dance, and curtains that move, a remote control car to drive on a track, and Fortnite characters that light up and move.
The bits group played challenge games most of the class. Through experimentation they came to understand how various inputs worked with the outputs. They played with buttons, slide switches, timeouts, oscillators, dimmers, sound triggers, and light sensors. Additionally, they saw how to change light colors with simple adjustments with a screwdriver, how to change the pitch of buzzers, and how our various motors work. Tomorrow, they will have a team challenge that they will work on together.
We will see where their creativity and knowledge take them!
Bloxels Game Design Both the bits and the bytes learned many of the possibilities of Bloxels Game Design. They had the opportunity to try out a pre-built game called “Poultry Panic.” In playing this game, they began to understand what they could do with Bloxels. After trying out this pre-existing game with a stock character, they designed, built, and animated their own character. They made decisions about their character’s appearance when idle, walking, and jumping. They manipulated frame rate and examined how it changed their character’s animation. They tested their character in the pre-built test room to see how it looked in action.
The Bits ended the session by building enemies for their game. Students learned how to animate enemies and thought about how they fit in their game.
The bytes began developing a story for their game that will fit in with their partner’s game. They explored how their individual games could work in conjunction with another student’s game.
Minecraft The bits group was introduced to the “Roller Coaster Theme Park” challenge on Minecraft Education Edition. They were divided into two teams - red & blue to make the most creative and exciting theme park. The students brainstormed ideas of what they would like the “themes” to be. The red team is working on a “Biome” themed park and the blue team is working on a “Movie” themed park. The teams have a Think Camp Intern who is helping them. Both groups started strongly by listening to each other.
The bytes group was introduced to the “Wipeout Maze” challenge on Minecraft Education Edition. They were divided into two teams - green & yellow. The students have started building their own separate rooms with unique traps. If they want to brush up on their skills they can use:http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Tutorials/Traps