segunda-feira, 24 de junho de 2019

Projecto fantástico e dezenas de novos jogos

Lembram-se de Sc0tb0t? O seu criador, Douglas McGregor, é professor e lançou um projecto com os seus alunos no qual estes criaram uma série de jogos através do AGD. Esta foi das melhores notícias que poderíamos ter tido, pois é a garantia que as novas gerações irão continuar a dinamizar o Spectrum.

Vale a pena ler a sua carta na íntegra (esperemos que não se importe por a divulgarmos), e fica a promessa de que iremos analisar os jogos um por um. São nada menos que perto de duas dezenas (até à data)!!!!!!

I am a teacher at Bearsden Primary in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland. I wanted to bring your attention to the project I have been working on with my pupils this term.

Having developed schemes of work based on coding in the past, I found coding resources such as Scratch and to be too restrictive. They were teaching invaluable skills but lacked that 'bigger picture' of collating all of the skills learned to create something truly tangible.

Drawing on the interests of my pupils we quickly agreed that we would love to code our own computer games. 

This passion for coding sent me on a trip down memory lane, back to the 1980s when kids of this age would sit in their bedrooms on their zx Spectrum or Amstrad CPC computers copying hundreds of lines of code from magazines in order to play the latest "type in" game.

This familiarity with coding led to an entire generation of bedroom coders who had developed an understanding of code through mitosis after painstakingly typing it in and then debugging the code looking for errors.

The next step was to create your own code and ultimately create your own game which was done on a scale never before or since seen. 

With this inspiration I set about learning how to code on the ZX Spectrum and I stumbled across Jonathan Caldwell's 'Arcade Game Designer' . This was a perfect fit. There was enough coding involved to really challenge and build upon the prior learning of the pupils but it wasn't daunting and inaccessible.

There was something truly magical about going back to a system which is 37 years old and learning to code just as kids of a similar age would have learned then. 

Technology may have moved on since 1982 but the computational thinking skills required to program a computer have remained the same. Obviously I couldn't source 32 zx Spectrum computers but luckily there are free online emulators which mimick the system perfectly. 

We then set off on a journey from our initial thoughts and seedling ideas to designing sprites and learning how to animate them. We covered how to build environments and designed every single block that would appear in the game.

We learned how to program movement of our own and enemy sprites and the games began to take shape. 

Every single pupil was completely engrossed in their learning. If it wasn't the programming skills, it was the animation. If it wasn't the problem solving aspects, it was the marketing and presentation. If it wasn't the story telling it was the logical patterns. There was something for everyone. 

After several weeks of coding my pupils have formed a deeper understanding of how computers understand commands. They have developed resilience strategies to tackle problems and find a solution. They have learned how important it is to constantly analyse and evaluate their work in order to produce something they are proud of and that's what they have delivered.

More than this though, the pupils now realise that they have the skills and talent in them to achieve whatever they put their minds to. A couple of months ago the prospect of designing a fully playable and published computer game seemed ridiculous but that is exactly what each and every one of them has done. One can only imagine what they will go on to achieve in the future but I truly believe it will be something wonderful! 

I am incredibly proud of all of my pupils and I would love for their hard work to receive some recognition.

I am working on a guide to allow other teachers to access the software and perhaps create games with their own classes in the future in order to provide real life, relevant connections to the concepts taught and the world of work. 

The games are available here.

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