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Programming Project Comes Full Circle

14 December 2016

This week has seen a significant milestone for the Computing Department at APS as we have witnessed our cross phase programming project complete its first 6 year cycle.

  • Year 8 ICT Scratch-6746
  • Year 8 ICT Scratch-6765
  • Year 8 ICT Scratch-6754
  • Year 8 ICT Scratch-6741

Back in 2009, when I arrived at BIS HCMC, one of the first new schemes of work I introduced was a Year 8 Unit, called ‘GamePlan’. This involved using the Scratch visual programming software developed by MIT to encourage more students into the world of computer programming. At that stage, Scratch itself was only a few years old.  The purpose of the unit was for students to use the software to create promoting ‘healthy eating’ to 7 year olds.  They duly did this, some peer assessment followed and a self-evaluation was written and we moved on.

The following year, a chance conversation with Mr Daniel Hatfield, led to him bring his class over to act as Healthy Eating Game Testers.  I can still remember how enthusiastic, focused and brilliantly behaved class the class were.  It was safe to say the Year 8s were the more nervous, but I was really impressed with how well both classes took to the activity (I learnt to develop my Primary ‘Miss Claire’ voice too), and how valuable the ‘real- end-user feedback’ was for the game developers.

After that we expanded to including Year 2 from APP and then TX, and began to link the games to the IPC and other topics being studied. Over the course of the last 6 years, over 600 Year 2 students have visited and dealt with flying lettuce, racing cars, chasing flying items, clothing themed Pacman and an array of complex mazes. Students have learnt to use loops, broadcasts and sensing routines but, more importantly, realised that what makes sense to them, may not be obvious to their ‘client’.

This week, we were able to gather the 7 remaining students from Mr Daniel’s class and see how they found the experience on the other side. Some of them appear to look almost exactly the same, whilst others are scarcely recognisable – I think I’m in the latter category.

Year 8 ICT Scratch Before _ After

They can remember visiting back in 2010 (although mostly only the flying carrots stick in their minds), and all said it’s much tougher providing the games rather than playing them.

I’m not sure how many of us will still be here in 2022 to see today’s visitors become the game developers, but I sincerely hope that the project continues to enable them to do so.

If you would like to learn more about the work of our Computing department, you can follow our Twitter account.

Claire Easter, Head of Computing