Our last video of Think Camp was a fun one! We watched Electric Surfboards and discussed which surfboard we liked the best and why. Campers were also asked, If you could design your own electric skateboard what would it look like? The electric surfboard that hovered above the water was the winner hands down. The campers had great ideas like designing their surfboards to look like sharks or to be able to “surf” above land and not only water.
To the parents of all Bloxels Think Campers: Today, you will receive a paper invite to purchase your child’s Bloxel account for $9.99, so that they can keep building on their own with the account they began at Think Camp. This is a lifetime account- it’s paid for once and forever!
bits and bytes: Today’s Bloxels class was a lot of fun. The bits group 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 arcade, where all Bloxels game designers post their work. We spent most of the second half of our class playing each others’ games. Everyone had at least one finished game to share, and they enjoyed having their fellow designers play their games.
bits: Students used all of the coding techniques they have learned over the course of the week to design their own code to meet their own objectives. They explored the lighting, sounds, movements, animations, and conditional responses, sometimes in a pattern or loop, to simply play and create. They added attachments to Dash to get him to launch a catapult or draw with a marker. Also, using what they learned about “conditionals” the day before, students built their own mazes and designed code for Dash to complete the maze. This type of thinking was a real challenge, but clearing the maze was a fun accomplishment.
bytes: Students used all the coding and building techniques they have learned over the course of the week to modify their robot to compete in a battle arena. They had to add a color sensor and code it to distinguish between the brightness of the arena and the brightness of the border. This allowed them to stay in the arena and run into the other robots. Additionally, students build attachments and weapons to improve their battle readiness. The used trial and error to determine which attachments worked best. While, flashy weapons controlled by the third motor were exciting to try, simple attachments that promoted stability were successful, as well.
bits: On our final day the teams wrapped up their amazing zoo projects and got to explore the wonderful world of Minecraft that we continue to build each year at Think Camp. They saw a Colosseum, a castle, mazes and roller coaster Theme Parks and fought the ender dragon!
bytes: Today was the day for the students epic adventure in Hogwarts! The interns only managed to find 20 of the 70 hidden TNT blocks in the school so the students saved the day!
The campers finished their projects with littleBits. The byte’s goal was to create a chain reaction contraption that caused a simple task to happen in an overly complicated way. 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 the projects here.
Thursday, June 13th
Today’s video was all about being efficient and even a little lazy. We watched Self-driving Slippers, which is being piloted in Japan. The campers were asked, What other item in your home would benefit from being self-driving? Why? They excelled at coming up with creative ideas for this technology. We all agreed that device chargers should be self-driving as well as remote controls. Their ideas also led to helping us with our pets. We all know dogs leave their toys all over the house, so making the toys self-driving would be a wonderful to clean up without all the work.
To the parents of all Bloxels Think Campers: Bloxels has introduced a new Take Home program for families! Today we sent home an invite to purchase your child’s Bloxel account for $9.99, so that they can keep building on their own.
The home account is a lifetime account- it's paid for once and good forever!
bits: Today, the bits group added some extra complexity to their video games by animating art. Some campers made spinning coins and another created blinking bones to collect. Tomorrow we will finalize our games and share them to the Bloxels’ Arcade.
bytes: Each day think campers learn new elements to add to their game. In addition to animating art, today’s focus was to spend time customizing decorations and backgrounds to make their games truly unique. The bytes group did not want to stop working on their games today. Several campers asked to have more time to work. Tomorrow, games will be finalized and shared to the Bloxels Arcade.
bits: Students continued enjoying the same centers as yesterday. By the end of class today, most students have had the opportunity to use the voice commands to have Dash follow them all around the gym, use the launcher to make a basket, and use the bulldozer attachment to move the styrofoam cups across the box. The continued enjoying Dot’s recording, costumes, and unique personality.
bytes: Students added sensors to their robot to allow it to respond to outside stimulus. They added an ultraviolet sensor to the front an a touch sensor to the back of their robot. The ultraviolet sensor helped to prevent their robot from running into anything in front of it. The touch sensor allowed their robot to change directions every time the button was pressed.
bits: Today the Red team built a cow enclosure, a dispenser and a rainforest. Today the blue team built a panda enclosure, added llamas to a mountain, an aquarium and a mountain. They also put paths to connect all of their attractions. Tomorrow both teams will get to explore the zoo and the wider Minecraft world that students have been working on.
bytes: Students worked really hard discovering all the nooks and crannies of Hogwarts! They have built traps and made it as tricky as possible for Voldemort’s team to find the hidden TNT blocks. Tomorrow they will get the opportunity to defend Hogwarts and attack a castle that the interns have worked on!
Campers in both the bits & bytes 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.
bits: In the bits group, we have many homes that are inviting and fun. The campers are excited about the many electric working parts of their homes and favorites are doorbells and lighting. We are having fun letting our imaginations push our thinking and tinkering. There was a lot of laughter as the kids played together, explored each other’s homes, and even delivered mail to each other.
bytes: In the bytes group, we have many chain reaction contraptions that have overengineered solutions to do such tasks as to get a pig to the 10th floor using an elevator, to tip a cup of BBs into a bin, to pour water into a cup, to put a ball into play, and to ring a buzzer. There was a lot of excitement as the designs began to really come together.
Students were challenged to create a tower that was capable of holding the most weight at least 12 inches above the table. They were given cups, paper clips, tooth picks, foil, straw, and more in order to build their tower. The difficulty of this challenge came from the limited materials given. Students quickly built towers that reached beyond 12 inches above the table, but they had to think carefully about the stability of their tower under the pressure of the weight. Students had to work together and share ideas. Most groups who were successful needed help from all members and every minute allotted to achieve this goal.
Wednesday, June 12th
Today our video explored dehydration. Jelly drops were invented to help dementia patients who often forget to drink and have trouble drinking from a glass and then become dehydrated and quite ill. After watching the video the campers were asked, What is another way you would use jelly drops? Who else could they help? They had wonderful ideas about jelly drops helping those hiking in the desert, participating in sports, running marathons, taking medicine, and even to helping older or ill pets from becoming dehydrated. We are so proud of their innovative thinking!
bits: The bits continued to work on adding a story element to their game. They needed to develop a final objective or end flag for their game. By the end of the class today, everyone 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.
bytes: Today the bytes group continued working on their games. Many of the campers have multiple levels, and they were eager to get to work on creating more. Today’s focus was on creating and animating art to add to their game. Many of the students created art to share with the rest of the campers.
bits: There were several additions to the robot centers, today. Students were introduced to voice commands. Using Dash’s audio sensor, they created a simple, continuous code that allowed Dash to search for each student as they called to the robot. Also new to centers, students were able to try out Dash’s ball launcher. They were free to add the launch feature into creative codes of their choice or to try to make a basket in a small bucket. The major challenge for today required students to move three evenly spaced cups from one side of a square to the other. The challenge required students to be able to move forward, backtrack, and repeat in a different position. This was a tough challenge, but students’ creative thinking and problem solving allowed them to create a workable solution.
bytes: Students completed their drivable robot base, today. Their introduction to coding the robot involved determining the length of a single rotation of the two drive motors. This simple code is beneficial as they will use this number for the remainder of the week to help them meet several challenges. While building their drivable base, groups toyed with ideas for their weapon attachments for the battle bot arena on the last day of the week.
bits: Today we showed the work that both teams have accomplished this week to inspire future creativity. The Red Team worked on their chicken coop, underwater aquarium, gift shop & rainforest and learned chemical formulas in order to make glow sticks!. The Blue Team worked on a panda exhibit, wolf enclosure, polar bear and mooshroom exhibit, aquarium and ticket booth. Tomorrow will be the last day to work on their zoo as on Friday they will get to explore and test it out!
bytes: The students got to complete their castles today and both the blue and red teams had to defend their castle from each other! They also got to visit Hogwarts which they will be defending on Friday from Voldemort’s team!
bits: The bits worked on creating their interactive homes. Campers added doorbells, lights, and even motion activated alarms to their designs. They pushed their creativity and thinking by adding more than one path to their circuit. There was a lot of laughter as they explored each other’s designs. Many campers have also asked if they can take home their cardboard boxes at the end of the week. Please discuss this possibility with your child. They may take their creations home, but know they are rather large since they are constructed out of appliance boxes.
bytes: The bytes 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.
bits: The bits were challenged with designing and building furniture out of masking tape and paper. Working in groups, the campers brainstormed and planned their creation. No two designs were the same, but all were very creative. At the end of the challenge the bits discussed the importance of planning before designing.
bytes: Today’s challenge was to design and build a table out of newspaper tubes. It needed to be at least eight inches tall and strong enough to hold a heavy book. The groups were asked to brainstorm and design. Then campers were encouraged to think about the questions below. 1. How can you make a strong tube out of a piece of newspaper? (This challenge used tubes because it takes more force to crumple paper when it’s shaped as a tube.) 2. How can you arrange the tubes to make a strong, stable table? 3. How can you support the table legs to keep them from tilting or twisting? 4. How level and big does the table’s top need to be to support a heavy book?
Tuesday, June 11th
Today’s video was all about the invention of Motion Sickness Glasses. The campers were asked, Do you think theses glasses would work? Do you know someone they could help? We found out there are many campers this would help. Some even said it would be life changing, allowing them to travel wherever and however they want. Most of the campers thought these glasses would probably work because your eyes focus on the moving liquid inside the glasses and trick your brain. But, we did have several skeptical campers who thought there was no way these glasses would do the trick to cure motion sickness. We love that they are thinking hard and sharing their ideas!
bits: The bits 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. They learned how to use story blocks and checkpoints as a way to tell the story and give the player directions and objectives. We will continue developing this tomorrow.
bytes: The bytes also thought of a story, learned how to use story blocks and checkpoints, and learned how to animate their characters. In addition, these campers tested out other Bloxels games as research in their quest to design the most fun game ever. After testing games, the bytes made notes and discussed things they liked and didn’t like about the games they played.
Towards the end of our session today, the group 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.
bits: Students explored the capabilities of a “Repeat Forever” block today. Whereas they designed individual lines of code yesterday, a “Repeat” block allows them to create a simple pattern that can solve a complex task, when repeated. Students had the opportunity to work with Dot and/or Dash in various centers, again today. They continued to love recording their own sounds for the robots to repeat back, and helping Dash play his xylophone is always a hit. Students were challenged to help Dash drive around two stuffies, first in a simple repeating box, then in a repeating figure eight pattern.
bytes:. Today’s challenge was developing the code to receive the input of a pressed touch sensor and convert that into rotations of a motor. They had to have the math sense to estimate rotations of a circle needed to open and close the box lid on command. All groups experienced different levels of “success.” However, everyone gained a greater understanding of the building and coding needed for a Lego robot. Next, students began building their drivable robot base. They followed a plan to create the base we will use the rest of the week. While students appreciated the instructions after the open ended box challenge, they quickly realized that building a drivable bot requires top notch spatial reasoning.
bits: Students reflected on what they built yesterday and what they might change to improve their zoo. The Red Team built a wolf enclosure, underwater aquarium, chicken coop and started a spooky exhibit and polar bear exhibit. The Blue Team started a tropical rainforest, a wolf enclosure and started building an aquarium.
bytes: Students continued building traps and defenses and working on strategies for protecting their castle. Each team had opportunities to work together and teach each other new tips and tricks. Together each teams has over 20 traps to protect their castle. Tomorrow they are testing out their teamwork!
bits: The bits continued to develop a littleBits City. They used large boxes to make a town. Campers have placed their houses in various locations including University City, Times Square, and on Big Bend. Many of the homes have windows, secret passages, and all made doors that open and close. Other features include doggie doors, chimneys, address signs, curtains, and even old fashioned telephones with cups and string. 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.
bytes: The 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. As campers worked on their projects, many discovered that changes had to be made to get it function as they wished. They were very positive as they found success from some failures in their designs. 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 projects whose end result is to get a ball into a cup, make a buzzer sound, pour water into a cup, a ball thrower, a making a pig elevelator go to the “10th floor.” We are seeing some great machines where simple machines are in action along with electronic components.
Today we created water rockets and teams had the challenge of getting their rocket to fly the highest. Campers worked to first design a rocket by adding fins, a nose cone, and some mass. Teams then had to think about how much “fuel” (water) to add to their rocket. We then used our rocket launcher attached to an air compressor to send rockets flying. Like anything engineered, we had a minor issue with the launcher and will revisit the challenge later in the week.
Monday, June 10th
Welcome to Think Camp! To begin our week, each camper was presented with their very own Idea Book to collect all their wonderful thoughts, observations, plans and more throughout the week. We viewed the notebooks of many famous thinkers, such as Einstein, Edison, Khalo, Lewis and Clark, and more. They all agreed that sometimes if you don’t write or sketch your idea it’s gone forever.
Each day we show the campers a video that we find inspiring. Today we watched The Ostrich Pillow. Each video is accompanied by a question and answered however they like in their Idea Books. Today’s question was, How is this better than a regular pillow? The campers shared that it was better because it covers your ears and eyes making it easier to sleep and because it is adjustable. Most of them agreed they would give it a try if they had the chance.
The campers are split into two groups. The bits group is the campers entering 2nd and 3rd grade. The bytes group is those entering 4th-6th grade.
Every day the campers can choose a variety of activity during Think Centers. This year our centers include:
Circuit Works: Snap Circuits gives your child a hands-on education to discover how electrical circuits -- like those found in everyday devices kids are familiar with -- function and operate.
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 “Road Trip Rescue” For the bytes, we have “Summer Road Trip.” 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 through teamwork. Some are in plain sight, and others are less obvious. Teamwork and thinking are the keys to success.
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 Legos 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.
Hexbug Nano: Use track sets with tons of building options to design unique roadways for the nano.
Friendship Bracelets: Making a friendship bracelet is making decisions – what colors should I use, what pattern am I going to tackle? This is also hands-on experience of problem solving and trying again until it comes out right with lots of opportunities for collaborative learning.
Origami: Origami develops hand eye coordination, sequencing skills, math reasoning, spatial skills, memory, but also patience and attention skills.
Paper Airplane Design & Build: Design and build paper airplanes to fly as far as possible and/or to stay in the air as long as possible.
Turing Tumble: Turing Tumble is a revolutionary new game where players build mechanical computers powered by marbles to solve logic puzzles. (grades 4-6 only)
3D Pens: With a 3D pen you can draw a raised graphic on a piece of paper or any flat surface. But what makes a 3D pen truly unique is its ability to “draw” in mid-air, allowing you to instantly form 3D structures right in front of you, which you can pick up and hold in your hand
Both groups learned many of the possibilities of Bloxels Game Design. The groups had the opportunity to try out a pre-built game from the arcade. In playing this game, campers began to understand what they could do with Bloxels. After trying out a game with a stock character, campers had the opportunity to design, build, and animate their own character. They made decisions about their character’s appearance when idle, walking, and jumping. Each camper 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.
At the end of our session, we introduced the idea of building the first room of our game. Students learned how to put their own character into the first room of their game. Tomorrow, we will dive deeper into our game design, explore tying rooms together, and develop an overall story.
bits: Students met Dot and Dash the robots today. They are funny, silly, and sometimes have a mind of their own. However, everyone learned that they are the boss of the robotos. They used creative coding to help Dot and Dash meet challenges at six different stations. Students coded the robots to light up with all the colors of the rainbow and dance in celebration. Then, things became much more serious. One of Dash’s less animated friends, a stuffy of their choice, was in trouble. They had to code Dash to drive around their stuffy blaring his siren to scare off any dangers. bytes: Students began learning the basics of Lego Mindstorms building and coding. They learned about the sensors and motors used in the EV3 system. Their task today was to build a box complete with a lid that opens with the push of a button. The first challenge was building a box without instructions. While challenging at first, campers soon began to discover what was possible with the Mindstorms Lego blocks. Some groups began to plan their code as they neared completion of their box.
bits: Students were split into 2 teams - Red & Blue. They were challenged to build a World Class Zoo in Minecraft. They were introduced to a variety of different animals and brainstormed what animals they would like to add. The Red Team worked on an aquarium and mountain for a wolf enclosure. The Blue Team worked on a spooky cave, horse stables and a chicken coop. The students have realized the importance of creating a strong enclosure to ensure their animals do not escape!
bytes: Students were split into 2 teams - Red & Blue. They were given a castle that they had to defend. They researched traps to protect their castle and started modifying the layout of the castle to confuse the other team. They will test their team strategy out and see if they can protect their treasure! If they want to THINK about other options, they can use the following websites.
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 bits can do, they were given a special challenge. bits: The bits special challenge is to create a structure out of large appliance boxes. They had fun making windows and doors and decorating their boxes with welcome mats, flowers, and more! Tomorrow, they will continue their creation and start to think about which circuits they want to add.
bytes: The bytes special challenge is to create a chain reaction contraption, also known as a Rube Goldberg machine. We learned a bit about Rube Goldberg, looked at his cartoons, and watched a small clip of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure to see one in action. Campers then started designing and building their very own creation. They quickly realized that they need to overengineer a simple task that is broken down into steps that cause a chain reaction. There was a lot of laughter and thinking out loud as they started building. Tomorrow we will see where their creativity and knowledge take them!
Water Filter Students were challenged to build a water filter that could take muddy water with bits of grass and rocks in it and remove as much of the contaminants as possible. The filter worked if the end product is “cleaner” than the original. Students could use gravel, sand, mesh, filter paper, coffee filters, cotton t-shirts, cotton balls & pencil shavings and needed to filter out the large particles first before the smaller particles. Students had to think about which materials would be better for each layer of the filtering process. All groups were very successful in cleaning up the water!