Monday, December 14, 2015

Student Guest Blog Post: #20PercentTuesday reflection - Oculus Rift and Sketchup

Hi there! My name is Sophie and today I am sharing my #20PercentTuesday experience so far. Before I decided to pick my option in this Mr Isaacs asked the class if any one wanted to play the Oculus Rift. As soon as he said that my hand went straight up! I always see famous youtubers use it and it looked so cool and awesome! After I played a game in it, the game was that you could go around a detailed house in virtual reality! After I tried that game, I knew my choice and was definitely to work with the Oculus Rift, it was so cool that I could see my potential with virtual reality.

My friend and I were thinking what we would make to play in the virtual reality object. We decided to make an idea off the first game I played on the Oculus Rift, we want to make a house with objects inside that you have to find. We looked up some youtube videos that went through the process of making the house and saw that we have to go to the system called SketchUp. In SketchUp we would make our house with a bunch of specific tools.

After we make our house we will put it into Unity. Unity is the program where the Oculus Rift plays its games. So far through my experience I have really learned the basics in making my game in SketchUp. I have gone through all of the tools in order to make all the specific measures and basics of the house. The progress we have been making is very good so far, we have made a mini version of the house to see what we know so far in SketchUp. Since we know a lot now about it, we plan to move forward in making the base of the real house. In this whole experience it's just crazy and amazing to imagine me walking through my own game and creation using the Oculus Rift.

Here is another game called MushroomVR Ball that I played where you have to collect coins without falling out of the world.
Here is a game on the Oculus Rift called Don't Let Go that you can play virtually. In this game you cannot let go of the computer while scary things challenge you. I played this too and it was great.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Student Guest Blog Post: #20PercentTuesday: Getting Started with Unreal Engine

In Game design and development we are allowed to do 20% time , and for that i am using Oculus rift and recreate a house in Colonial Williamsburg that people could explore in Virtual Reality with Oculus rift.

So far i have done some tutorials while i am working with Unreal engine 4.  I got inspired to do this by visiting Colonial Williamsburg, and this is a town that shows you how it was lived during the Civil War.  I think it is important to know how people lived back then so we appreciate how we live better.  I have learned to create a project and create a blank
My next steps are to create a room like this one and sort of create a game out of it.

I wanted to use the oculus rift rather than Virtual Reality because i like how you can physically pretend that you are actually experiencing the home.  I am going to recreate a Colonial style mini town and the main focus are in a couple of forms.  I like that the room i am going to create is going to allow you to interact with the technology and people and hoe the daily life was back then

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Whitehouse #CSEdWeek Computer Science Tech Jam Recap

A little over a week ago I was doing homework with my kids with my phone close at hand as usual.  I tend to obsessively check email and often think to myself, Why am I doing this?  Do I think I'm going to get that email that says I won the lottery or was being invited to an event at the Whitehouse or something? Well, low and behold, I glance down and see an email with the subject line: 
Invitation: Whitehouse CS Tech Jam - December 7, 2015
You could say that it caught my eye.  I opened the email and was presented with the following:

I was a bit excited, in a little bit of disbelief, and certainly honored.

As the day approached, I became aware of some of the other dyamic people that would be there and was excited to find out that a number of friends that I have a great deal of respect and admiration for would be there.  This list included Lucas Gillispie (@lucasgillispie) was also attending. In addition, friends including Rafranz Davis (@rafranzdavis), Mark Deloura (@markdeloura), Deidre Quarnstrom (@Deidre206) along with Robin, Jason, and Michelle from the #Minecraft team, Erik Martin (@Eriklaes), Jed Dearbury (@mrdearbury1), Tammi Schrader (@TammiSchrader), Kara Chesal (@KCintheNYC), Katrina Stevens (@KatrinaStevens1) and others.  In addition,  members of the google classroom team, Magic Leap, Sphero, and Raspberry Pi, Glass Lab, and a number of amazing educators from around the country would be in attendance. I was very excited to collaborate with such an amazing and resourceful group.

Sunday was a great day in the city as Lucas and I spent a beautiful day strolling around the Capital hacking portals and making the city a safer place for the Resistence team in Ingress.  Sorry, that's a lot of geek talk for we walked around and played the location based game, Ingress in the area around the Whitehouse.
The before picture - when the 'enlightened'
still controlled the White House
The after picture - Peace of mind is restored as
the Resistence has regained control of the Whitehouse

We awoke early on Monday as we needed to arrive at the Whitehouse by 7:15 am to ensure there were no hold ups with our security clearance.  We were quite early and it was beautiful to see the Whitehouse and the surrounding area as the sun was rising and the moon was still in plain view.

Early morning view of the WhiteH
The Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the Whitehouse - our office for the day.
We made it through security and then Lucas and I found ourselves alone and a bit lost in the Eisenhower building.  There was a sign that indicated that the Truman Bowling Alley was located in the basement.  Very tempting... We wandered around the entire first floor before running into some other participants and realizing that we needed to make it to the 4th floor :)  

We entered and were greeted with breakfast and the opportunity to spend some time interacting with the other invited guests.  It was great to reconnect with Jed Dearbury who I had met in Seattle a few weeks prior.  He's a rock star in terms of Skype in the Classroom.  His presentation at the #redefinelearn event was one of the highlights.  I realized Tammi Schrader, who I have been friends with online for some time and have been waiting to meet was also at our table.  It was great to meet her in person (finally!). Then, as the talking continued, I realized that next to me was Greg Zecchini from the Google Classroom team.  I was on the lookout for him and others from the team based on Jonathon Rochelle's alert that they would be there.  

The Welcoming remarks were kicked off by Danielle Carnival, Assistant Director, Education and Learning Science, from the Whitehouse Office of Science and Technology Policy (@whitehouseOSTP).  Danielle had been the one communicating with us prior to the event.  She was followed by Megan Smith, CTO from the OSTP.  Megan brought a great energy and passion to the discussion as she framed the day of a day for us to be inspired and create projects that will inspire others.  

Megan Smith brought Pikachu and other toys along to help inspire creativity for the day

Next up was Richard Culatta (@rec54).  I have always been a fan of Richard and his leadership as the Director at the Office of EdTech.  Richard has a game design background and totally believes in and supports the value of games in learning.  He is helping to push the needle and move the discussion forward in a significant way. My favorite Richard Culatta quote remains, "Learning is Fun.  We need to stop making it boring."  Yep, that about sums it up!

"Learning is Fun.  We have to stop making it boring." ~@rec54

Other speakers included Janice Cuny, the Program Director for Computing Education at NSF, Gretchen Achenback, Research Scientist from NCWIT (National Center for Women and Information Technology.  Rafranz Davis closed out the house in her typical awesome fashion.  

Rafranz Davis, amazing educator and advocate for equity in education

Now it was time to get to work.  The day was structured as a hack-a-thon, termed a Tech Jam with the goal of solving problems and generating opportunities around bringing computer science to elementary school.  Mark DeLoura kicked off the working session by setting the stage for our teams to solve problems and CREATE.  

We had six hours to develop something as a team of 5 to 6 people to showcase during the Expo at the end of the day.  Groups were made up of educators, developers, and other industry professionals.

Ideas included:

CodeQuest, monthly coding challenge in a box, created by my group.  Our idea was modeled after the Loot Crate idea and would be a subscription based service where each month the teacher / facilitator would receive a box with a new tool (i.e. MakeMakey, Sphero, Little Bits kit, Arduino board, Raspberry Pi, etc.).  The module would include a series of one sheet cards to explain the technology, teach a coding concept, share a 'watch it - code it' activity where students would follow a step by step tutorial to create something based on the tool and the coding activity.  The next step would be a 'Mod it' step where a series of design challenges would be provided to allow the student to modify the project and thus extend their learning.  Finally, they would be presented with choice of Quest Cards that provide a real world problem to solve using the contents of the monthly kit and the coding knowledge the students have to date.  

Lucas 'pitching' CodeQuest during the Tech Jam Expo

CodeaGram might have been my favorite product as it was modeled after Instagram (talk about meeting the kids where they are!) and users could code something (a small app or program) and upload the program to the service. The code would be available by clicking a button on the app and the user could download the code right from the app.  What a great way to have coders showcase their work and be part of a larger coding community. 

Wowwing me with the prototype (pretty close to being ready to launch!) of CodeaGram

There were many other great ideas for sure.  I would need to write a series of posts to cover all of them!

Closing remarks were provided by John King, Delegated Deputy Secretary, Department of Education.  He spoke of the importance of making opportunities accessible to everyone and shared stories of him being the person to represent any form of diversity on occasion.  We need to create products and opportunities that meet the diverse needs of all learners.  

The day was amazing in so many ways and as is the case often, the people really made it the tremendous experience it was.  Thanks to Erik Martin for thinking of me when it came to invitations and the OSTP staff, the awesome interns who organized the day's events, and everyone who participated and made it possible.  What a day!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Guest Blog Post: Student Reflection on 20%Time with Disney Infinity

For my 20% time, I am working on the Disney Infinity on the PS4. So far, my partner and I have been working on a battle arena to fight monsters, as well as a parkour map. Through this experience, I have learned how to use a PS4 controller (being a PC gamer), and how to design cool things in Disney Infinity. I think the next step would be to continue working on the parkour, and create cool jumps and obstacles. But overall, I am excited about playing Disney infinity :D

In this image, you can see the parkour that my partner and I  have made. One of us built the parkour map, and the other tested to make sure it was possible to  complete all the jumps and  rolls. The farther you go down the parkour, the harder it will be. As we developed the map, some slight changes were made in order to make the parkour possible.

In this image, you see the battle arena (w/o the enemies). Normally, this big structure would be packed with monsters. But in order to take the picture, we made sure there was no monsters to mess up the shot. Over to the left you can see the  ramp which leads to the exit of the arena, once you fight you way through all the monsters, In order to work in the game, the arena usually has about 50ish monsters, Once all the monsters are defeated you could even fight against your ally! Our next steps might be to make a scoring mechanism, and to make a monster spawner.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

20PercentTime for Teachers

I have come to believe that it is important to surround yourself with the people you want to be around. For me, those people are others passionate about playing, tinkering, and continually learning based on their interests. Might sound a lot like my approach to teaching, but I suppose that makes good sense.

As you may know, my students have been involved in a project called #20PercentTuesday where they pursue passion based projects. Well, us teachers need some of that time to dedicate to learning about what excites us as well. This past weekend we did just that, in fact on two occasions. On Friday, Kevin Jarrett (@kjarrett) hosted a group of us in his awesome learning space at the Northfield Community School (@ncsnj). We had a blast working on our own projects and sharing what we were doing. Here are some highlights:

Sarah receiving some help to use the Oculus Rift

Rurik (@ruriknackeraud ) flying a plane (a little better than Sarah aka #croptopknitter @artdabbler13)
Leila (@leilaboo215) editing her vlog alongside an oculus rifter
My lovely wife, Cathy (@iwearthecrowns) trying to configure the @littlebits cloudbit to work with #minecraft BitCraft mod
Every school needs an awesome studio for their daily news show!

Kevin Jarrett (@kjarrett) trying his hand at the Oculus.  The play by play provided was priceless.

Please check out Meredith Martin's (@geekyteach) Black Friday maker Day post for a great run down of the day's festivities!

So that was Friday. Fast forward to Sundat, quite possible our most fun #coffeeEduNJ to date. More playing and exploring cool stuff. Jonathan Rochelle (@jrochelle) brought the google expedition kit and took our caffeinated group on a few great journeys including the great barrier reef and some amazing waterfalls.

To stay with the virtual reality theme I brought the oculus rift out for a spin. People played mushroom ball VR, a fun VR 3D platformer and our goto horror experience "don't let go". One great quote of the day came from the son of Chris Harris (@principal_H) who stated emphatically, "this is the most fun I've ever had at a coffee shop". 

Jonathan Rochelle (@jrochelle) guiding an excited group through #googleexpeditions.  I spy @mzgrz and @keith_guarino)

Wait... Is that Barry Saide (@barrykid1) and his lovely wife jessica (@jazica30) at a #coffeeEduNJ?

Principal Harris (@Principal_H) watching as his son explores virtual reality with the oculus rift.

Our coffeeEdu group has become a family affair and adults and kids in attendance were wowed by the virtual reality experiences. Definitely made for rich discussion and excitement about what's possible.