I have never been so excited to see fish swim across a stage, a car shrink size or random numbers appear. Last night our school had a "Feb 13th Celebration", which was a look at where the school is with the progress of the Strategic Plan. A section of the plan was to increase the awareness of the STEM education. The evening was great. After the formal presentations we had students from all divisions highlighting some of the neat activities they are doing: engineering in the lower school, online computer courses in the upper school, math competitions, future cities and the 8th grade computer course in the middle school.
We have had an 8th grade programming course for years, but never to the extent of them having to participate in a gaming competition and such open ended as program a game and learn from the process. The elementary students talked about the engineering process which we very similar to the process the girls have gone through with their game. The best part was the two girls I asked to come to the night worked on their project while parents were looking on (that is not an easy thing with all eyes watching). They were able to get the fish to swim across the stage.
Now you may be saying oh fish swim, that's not difficult in scratch. But these girls have had three 46- minute periods working in scratch on tutorials. They worked collaboratively to get the fish swimming and by trying various things figured out how to get blocks of code to happen simultaneously.
The energy continued today in class as well. We were stuck on how to get multiple variables to be in a say block. (Did I mention I am new at scratch too). So working together, I introduced the students to Scratch Forums. I created a login name and had the students write the questions under me. Within in minutes we had an answer (Thanks TRocket!). The girls were so excited to see the answer and within seconds had the program creating random addition problems!!!! These games are starting to come together for one section. I see the others coming up later today. I hope the energy continues.