Tag Archives: game design

8th graders designed computer games in @BootstrapWorld during Algebra class with @mattgusto!

I learned about Bootstrap (@BootstrapWorld) from Cindy Gao of CSNYC (The New York City Foundation for Computer Science Education). Cindy locates, organizes, and publicizes awesome meetups and workshops for educators around the city. I attend many CSNYC events, and I always try to bring along other educators.

Back at the very start of the the school year, I approached Dr. Sabrina Goldberg (7th Grade Math) and Matthew Guastavino (8th Grade Math) about attending a two-day bootcamp for teachers to integrate Bootstrap into their curriculum so their students could learn math through coding and game design. As stated on Bootstrap’s website, “Unlike most programming classes, Bootstrap uses Algebra as the vehicle for creating images and animations, and is designed from the ground up to be aligned with Common Core standards for Algebra.

In January, Matt led a Bootstrap unit with his 8th grade Algebra students. They recently shared their games with the community, and Matt told me he and his students really enjoyed the experience. Here’s the game, Lizard Problem, created by Matt’s student, George. I love it when a plan comes together!

Sabrina, Matt, and Cait Bradley (Matt’s student teacher) will be offering a poster session at ISTE in Philadelphia in June. If you’re heading to ISTE, please visit their table and ask them about it:
Game On! Middle School Algebra through Coding and Game Design
Tuesday, June 30 from 10:30 am–12:30 pm.

As per Bootstrap’s website:

Bootstrap is a curricular module for students ages 12-16, which teaches algebraic and geometric concepts through computer programming. At the end of the module, students have a completed workbook filled with word problems, notes and math challenges, as well as a videogame of their own design, which they can share with friends and family. Our mission is to use students’ excitement and confidence around gaming to directly apply algebra to create something cool.

Bootstrap is proud to partner with two leading organizations: Code.org and CSNYC. Code.org and CSNYC allow us to bring our professional development, materials and support to teachers

Bootstrap also builds in a pedagogical approach to solving Word Problems called theDesign Recipe. Students solve word problems to make a rocket fly (linear equations), respond to keypresses (piecewise functions) or explode when it hits a meteor (distance formula). In fact, this same technique has been successfully used at the university level for decades.


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Awesome demo of a Makerbot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer at our NYCIST meeting


At our April NYCIST meeting, we saw a demo of a Thing-o-Matic 3D Printer by Isaac Dietz (@dietz1) of Makerbot Industries. Makerbot (@Makerbot) is based in Brooklyn, NY. Brandi Kaseta is the assistant to Ellen Baru (Director of Technology at The Cathedral School); After Brandi attended Botacon (themed “Robots For A Better Future”), she knew that the rest of us at NYCIST would be pscyhed to see the printer in action. Thank you, Brandi!

The Think-O-Matic comes as a kit and takes about 16-18 hours to put together. Some soldering is required. I joked that they could create a Thing-O-Matic-O-Matic which would be a printer built just to build other printers. Isaac said that in fact that had already been accomplished. The printer uses ABS plastic, just like legos. You can use their software, Sketchup, or other 3D modeling software to create a design up to 4″x4″x6″. Also, there are close to 10,000 pre-made templates and objects you can download and create at http://Thingiverse.com.

The Thing-O-Matic kit sells for $1299 on the site, and there is an educational discount on top of that of about 13%. Plus, the purchase would be tax-exempt. Contact Makerbot at: Support@makerbot.com

More resources:

Video of the printer in action is below:

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Incomplete notes after visiting Quest To Learn today…

Quest To Learn (http://q2l.org) is a joint venture between the Department of Education, The Gates Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation Institute of Play.

150 kids, 1:1 laptops stored in 6 laptop carts (combination Macbook and netbooks). Mostly cloud based usage via servers and Google Apps. Machines are numbered, so more often than not, kids use the same computer.

The NYC Board of Ed requires filtering, so there are two networks in use; There are only two points of access to the unfiltered network though.

There are 5 curricular Domains at Q2L that integrate multiple disciplines:
The Way Things Work
Being, Space, and Place
Sports for the Mind

Quest To Learn Core Values:
1. All ideas are improvable
2. Diversity creates balance
3. Win and lose with grace
4. Respect all things
5. Collaboration matters
6. Get in the game: Play fair, play fully
7. Experiment and imagine possibilities
8. Nobody walks by
9. Be tenacious
10. Lead by example

Down the hallway is a working Game Design Studio staffed with 4.5 designers. They have an open door policy, so students can walk by, pop in, and see the process unfold. Those games are then used in the classrooms to solve quests or missions. All topics of study are treated as a mission or game.

Q2L is in its second year. Last year they were just 6th grade on East 23rd Street. This year is 6th and 7th grades on the 4th floor of an existing public school on West 18th Street. They share a cafeteria, a boys gym, and a girls gym with the older/bigger/tougher kids on te 6th floor of the building. The 7th floor is a vast, gorgeously lit space that will eventually be Q2L’s high school. Today, I saw a couple of kids playing soccer in one alcove, and as per every floor, there was a hall monitor present.

More information in the Village Voice article here: http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-04-06/news/game-theory/

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