Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Introduction to MaKey MaKeys

I am very excited about the latest acquisition for our PYP STEM lab -- MaKey MaKeys from SparkFun!

What is the MaKey MaKey? It is marketed as an invention kit for everyone, and practically speaking it is a gadget that connects to your computer that allows to you make original and creative user interfaces for programs. Say, for example, you'd rather tap a banana instead of using your space bar. Simple with a MaKey MaKey!  Really, it's probably best to just watch one in action.

Here's a great introduction to the MaKey MaKey, that starts with a cool video:

Introduction to MaKey MaKey by SparkFun

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Circuit Basics

Continuing our exploration of electricity, the grades 3 to 6 students are starting to explore circuits. An excellent introduction to circuits can be found on this SparkFun website:

Sunday, 17 January 2016


We use electricity every day, but what do we really know and understand about it? To start us off on our explorations into electricity, electronics and creating with electronics, we will do some background research. Here's a great website to get us started:

Explain That Stuff: Electricity 

Salt, Ice and Water

Why is salt put on roads and sidewalks in the winter? Could something else be used instead? The Grade 1/2 class did some experiments to see what common kitchen ingredients melted ice the best. Winners: salt, baking soda, sugar. Losers: flour, cocoa, corn startch. 

The next time we meet we will finish our experiments on salt water and density.  

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Sokoban Game for Caribou Math Contest

The next Caribout Math Contest is coming up quickly, and this time the interactive math game will be Sokoban. This game was originally invited in Japan in 1980, and the word "sokoban" means "warehouse keeper" in Japanese. The object of the game is to push large boxes to designated spots in the warehouse. Boxes can only be pushed, not pulled, and they are so heavy only one can be pushed at a time. Boxes are so big they cannot be climbed over. This has some consequences during game play, such as if a box if ever pushed into a corner, there is no way to get it out again.

The first level of the game presented for practice on the Caribou website is quite tricky for beginners, so here are some other recommended resources:

  • Sokoban Online Start with the first lesson that can be found here. This site asks you to create an account, but it is not necessary. 
  • Sokoban by Jordi Domenech There are a few choices of collections of puzzles here too. Start with Level 1.
Sokoban will get easier with practice! Keep these tips in mind:
  • If you are stuck and frustrated, take a short break and come back. 
  • Every Sokoban game has a "Restart" button. Don't be afraid to use it! Often it is not possible to solve a level without some trial and error. 
  • Once you've completed a challenging level, go back and try it again to see if you can still remember the solution. 
Have fun!

Scratch - Virtual Pets

The students in Mme Brinda's class have been doing wonderful work creating their own virtual pets in Scratch. Lots of creativity and applying the use of advanced Scratch concepts like broadcasting messages between Sprites. 

Programming in Scratch

With the Rube Goldberg Fair behind us, we have started a new focus on computer programming using Scratch. Grade 1-2 students made programs to make Sorites dance, Grade 3-4 students have been making animations of the letters of their names and Grade 5-6 students have created a Pong Game. Great work by all!

Rube Goldberg Machines - Nearly finished!

This week, students have been very busy, putting the final touches on their Rube Goldberg Machines. Great work! Now, most teams are turning their attention to adding Hallowe'en themed decorations.