2020. What can be said that hasn’t been said before? I started out the year teaching in-person classes in Scratch and Python. I had just begun my registration for Spring classes when the entire world locked down. I’m thankful to have been able to move my classes to an online format (although I look forward to a time where I’ll be coding in the same room as my students!) So as we close out 2020, I’m feeling positive and remembering all of the fun projects that we worked on. Here are my top 5 favorites of the year…
#5 Writing Choose Your Own Adventures in Python
It combined two of my favorite things: coding and storytelling. We were able to practice working with strings, variables, conditionals, and functions. And we did it while creating stories about dark forests, evil cats, abandoned houses, and zombie apocalypses. I was inspired by one of my favorite book series from my childhood, and then I learned from the class that some of the books are available as an Alexa skill!
#4 Pokemon-Themed Platform Game in Scratch
I know I’m onto something good when my own kids look over my shoulder and tell me that they want to play with what I created! In this case, the idea for a Pokémon-themed platform game came from this past session’s Coding Fundamentals class. As a class they were very creative and very driven to build fun projects. I wanted to accomplish their goal, but keep it simple enough that we would stick to code blocks that they were already comfortable using. And I learned about Pokémon along the way– who knew there were so many different types of pokéballs?
#3 Breathe In / Breathe Out from Daily Scratch Challenges at Home
When everything shut down in the spring, it was a time filled with uncertainty. We didn’t know what was going to happen or how long we’d be home. We also had a lot of time to spend only inside our houses. During this time, I wanted us to keep coding, so I posted Scratch challenges every day to my social media. I’d post a video in the morning with a Scratch project for people to try to recreate, and in the afternoon I’d post the solution. It was a fun distraction during a very weird time. One of my favorites that I actually found useful was the breathe in / breathe out ball. During times of uncertainty and anxiousness, it can be helpful to take a few minutes and just focus on your breathing. I did that a lot this spring with this Scratch project!
#2 Building their First Pygames in Python
A lot of work went into building everyone’s first Pygame in Python! We built a “catcher” type game where the “player” collects items that drop from the top of the screen. They had to learn so many topics to build these: game loop, event handling, what objects are, how RGB and colors work, etc. Plus they had to learn about Pygame components like surfaces and sprites. These took weeks to make, but I’m very proud of everyone’s final projects!
#1 Among Us Random Imposter Game in Scratch
I announced this project, and every single student was excited about it! Was there anything more popular this year among elementary & middle schoolers? My only requirement for the project was that they have the game make a random selection of the imposter. And from that point their creativity took off, and they found ways to recreate their favorite parts all from within Scratch. Some focused on recreating the art, some focused on the logic, and some liked doing it all! And now, when they play the real thing, they have some ideas about what might be happening underneath the surface of the game!