Kodu -creating games

Microsoft Research has released a new version of  Kodu, and made it available to everyone, to introduce children to programming:
"...developers aged from seven to 70 can use Kodu to string together simple cartoon icons that define the rules of their game world, rather than using a complex programming language. Microsoft hopes Kodu will continue to be used to introduce children to programming, help them advance their design, math, and problem-solving skills, as well as encourage students to truly engage with computers, instead of experiencing them passively.." (link)

"The language is simple and entirely icon-based. Programs are composed of pages, which are broken down into rules, which are further divided into conditions and actions. Conditions are evaluated simultaneously.Kodu language is derived from gaming scenarios. Programs are expressed in physical terms, using concepts like vision, hearing, and time to control character behavior." (link)
Go to this page at the Microsoft Project web site to see screen shots, and read more about the program.

Then go to Planet Kodu, the page "where you can learn about Kodu Game Lab PC and share your Kodu games and creations." Starting on March 1st, Planet Kodu is offering "a free online course that explores all aspects of game design with Kodu." You can also download the program there.

This video is a year old, so the information given at the end about "where can you get this..." is no longer accurate. Kodu is a free download  for PCs  at Planet Kodu.

You can read more about Kodu and its development at these web pages:
Microsoft News Center
Ars Technica

Need a game?

Check out this web site: Simon Tatham's Portable Puzzle Collection.
  "This page contains a collection of small computer programs which implement one-player puzzle games. All of them run natively on Unix (GTK), on Windows, and on Mac OS X; they can also be played on the web, as Java applets."  

There are 32 puzzles on this web page!  Here's a screen shot of some of the games (they wouldn't all fit on my screen).  Click on the image to see it in a bigger version.

You can play on the web by clicking on a game, or you can download them to your computer.
"The thumbnail image for each game links to a Java applet so you can play it in your browser. Below each image is a link to the Windows binary for the game, and a link to the manual. For all other platforms, the games are provided in a single bundle, so scroll down to the Download section to get them all." (link)

Don't be put off because these games look simple.  They seem simple when you start, but will challenge you to master them all!

Thanks to Richard Byrne for the link.

Science Bloggers

A friend who teaches IB Chemistry and TOK at Shanghai American School has sent me links to her students' blogs and wikis. I was very impressed at the look, quality and thought shown in these publications, and want to share them:

chemicalparadigms: IB students thinking outside the box
"In Chemistry you know many things already: that 1 mole is equal to 6.023×1023 particles and that atoms are made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. However, we rarely stop to think about the process by which scientific knowledge is produced, obtained and achieved, nor under what circumstances, and in what ways scientific knowledge is renewed and reshaped by different people and from what perspectives and approaches. By pausing to reflect about the complexity of knowledge as you move though your study of chemistry (& science) you will deepen your understanding of how we know what we know about science and the scope and limits of this knowledge."

Chemistry students write on this blog about  their experience, research, and thoughts about science beyond their classroom.  Recent posts include
Read the posts, and also read the fine biographies of the authors under the About tab.

Theory of Knowledge  
"Welcome to the SAS Pudong blog created by the students in IB Theory of Knowledge."

Not only do these students write well crafted, thought provoking posts, they comment on each other's work, extending the dialog.
Recent posts include

Habits of Mind ePortfolio
"Over the year, you will develop a ePortfolio that indicates your personal growth in all 16 habits of mind using this class as the context. As a minimum, you must add five habits to the portfolio each quarter for the first three quarters. In quarter four, you may add one more habit. During quarter four, you will then write a summative reflection based on school wide learning goals."

The front page of this wiki lays out the purposes and goals for these student portfolios: at the bottom of the page you'll find links to each students eportfolio-wiki.

Reading these three sites has left me in awe, and full of hope for our world - these kids are fine thinkers and  communicators.  Huge applause to them and their teachers!

Tired of using a mouse, or a touchpad?

Learn this alphabet of key stroke shortcuts. Many will work in any program on any computer; some are special for MS Word 2007:

Computer ABCs

Need an excuse for something? a story starter?

Maybe this web site can help you... When you open the page, just click where it says "push here", and a new message will be generated.

Investigating Numbers in Cham

The Seniors Class took the photos in the Fall, as part of their Unit of Inquiry into Number Systems, Kevin MacLeod made the music, and Animoto made the video.

Typing Chef

Ready for more keyboarding practice?  Go to the Typing Chef web page.

Click on "Start Game".

As you progress through the levels, you also move up in the kitchen,


 Soon you're chopping ingredients, and then cooking... (be careful where you look.  The sign at the top of the page, in this case "red pepper" is NOT the word you need to type.  "green pepper" is falling to the bottom of the page. As you get the letters right, they turn green.  If you get them wrong, they stay black, and your score is not so good!)


Of course, the higher you get, the quicker you have to be with the keyboarding...and along the way, you'll probably see some new kitchen vocabulary words.

Beware! if you try to leave the kitchen early, the chef has a message for you:

Ten Finger Speed Test

The same folks who developed MathRun have also made an online keyboarding speed test site called Ten Fast Fingers.

On your screen you see some words, and a space in which to type. Use 10 fingers on your keyboard, and copy the words.  When you're finished, you'll get a report of how you did:

Use the little flags at the top of the page to choose which language you want to practice keyboarding.

And you get a badge that tells you your wpm (words per minute) keyboarding speed.

Math Run

Challenge time for the Seniors Class! Go to a new website called  MathRun . It's a simple game to practice your math skills.  When you open the page, you'll see this screen in the middle of the window (I think it looks a little like a phone app, but it isn't. You play on your computer screen.)

Pay attention to how you control the screen: left arrow = correct answer, right arrow = wrong answer, up arrow = go faster.

Press Enter on your keyboard to start the game.
You can watch your score at the top of the screen, and follow your "brainspeed".  On the right, there's a list of who else is playing, and what their scores are.

MathRun has been online since January 9 this year (2010), and has an accompanying blog that highlights its development.