Technology Focus: Google Docs & Scratch. Video Games are an important industry that employ thousands of people. These games are created with creativity, ingenuity and problem solving, these are all aspects of STEM. We should endeavour to have our students create video games instead of playing them.
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
(If you are a beginner click on this link and follow the “How to Tutorials”) Look for the question mark at the top right. Finish the tutorials and you then use this lesson.
Audience: Scratch can be used from grades 4-12.Tool Highlights: The main technological tool is Scratch. It is a drag and drop coding tool created by MIT. This is a powerful program that allows students of all abilities to be creative at their own level.
Introduction: Students will be creating a video game on food webs. They will work individually or in small groups (2-3) depending on student needs and technology availability. They will learn how to research using online tools and library resources about the selected ecosystems food webs. As students are researching they will record their learning and then use these ideas to create a video game.
Big Ideas: Plant and Animals are interdependent
- Changes to habitats affect plants and animals and the relationship between them
- Society relies on plants and animals
Grade 4 Science
- analyse the effects of human activities on habitats and communities;
- investigate the interdependence of plants and animals within specific habitats and communities;
- demonstrate an understanding of habitats and communities and the relationships among the plants and animals that live in them.
Grade 4 Writing (found throughout all grades)
- generate, gather, and organize ideas and information to write for an intended purpose and audience;
- draft and revise their writing, using a variety of informational, literary, and graphic forms and stylistic elements appropriate for the purpose and audience;
- use editing, proofreading, and publishing skills and strategies, and knowledge of language conventions, to correct errors, refine expression, and present their work effectively;
Types of writing: procedural writing, report writing and reflections
The mathematical processes that support effective learning in mathematics are found throughout the coding process and include: problem solving, reasoning and proving, reflecting, selecting tools and computational strategies, connecting, representing,communication.
Teachers can add expectations for other subjects by changing the content of the game.
Coding a video game requires knowledge of coding, however there are resources that allow educators and the students that require additional support.
Scratch terminology – teachers and students should be familiar coding vocabulary
There are step by step tutorials, on the right hand side of Scratch interface, that can serve as a great tool to learn how to code in Scratch. Students can proceed at their own pace and revisit any lesson as required.
Scratch tips/tutorials have been provided by MIT and provide guidance for educators and students.
Scratch Debugging tutorials have been provided by MIT and provide guidance for educators and students. This is very important, because debugging is the hardest aspect of coding.
Youtube also has a tremendous amount of video resources that can provide models and inspiration.
The following is a general framework of incorporating coding in a science classroom.
Students should play a variety of games that have been shared through Scratch. Students can click on the Explore Tab to access a variety of games created by the Scratch community.
Students will brainstorm different types of games that they can create. They should jot down the ideas and briefly describe the game. They should also explain why this would be a good game for them to create and for others to play.
Afterwards, students should brainstorm ideas for the content of their project such as human impacts on the environment. If required, a teacher may wish to provide additional sample game topics (e.g., Food webs, human interaction with nature, etc.).
Teacher Tip: Trivia games would work well, as the game poses a question and then they choose a multiple choice answer. However, there are many different Game Type Definitions, if a teacher wants to provide more options.
Teachers can search the database of games that have been created. This can provide teacher models to share with their class or examples to guide students.
Other good examples of types of games students can create might be:
Students begin researching the content of their game. Students can use a Graphic Organizer to record their information. Teachers can also create or adapt their own graphic organizers as they see fit.
Using the research, students will create questions and the corresponding answers. Students will need to plan out the series of questions and answers.
Sample question: What are the natural enemies of the black bear?
Sample answer: Bear cubs can be hunted by bobcats, wolves, cougars and other bears.
The game answers could also be multiple choice in a multiple choice format.
Students will begin to program their games.
Each game should have
- Title page
- Instructions on how to play
- Multiple choice questions or other ways of playing that incorporates the curriculum knowledge
- Scoring system
Optional game components
- Main character to read questions and give feedback to the player
- Background music
Teacher Tip: Students should write each section of code using procedural language. This helps students explain what should happen when students need to debug their program.
- When green flag clicked
- When Up Arrow is pressed, the sprite will move 10 steps up.
- When Down Arrow is pressed, the sprite will move 10 steps down
Debugging: This is the hardest aspect of coding. Debugging is a term used when a section of code does not work as intended. The procedural writing component allows students to communicate the intended purpose of the code. Students should attempt to solve problem themselves by going on youtube and look for other pieces of code that will help.
Teacher tip: Setting up a procedure for debugging will help with the flow debugging. Look for students that have an aptitude for coding and designate them to be your experts. However have students go to two other students before they go to the expert. The last stop is the Educator.
Assessment strategy (for, as, of learning, rubrics (strands), peer evaluation sheets, other)
As a whole class discuss: How do humans adapt to our environment? How does nature provide for us? How do we treat the environment?
Record anecdotal notes of student progress during research component. Focus on whether students are understanding the interdependence of all living things,
Review student game and research and assess using co-created success criteria.
NEXT STEPS/EXTENSIONS/ACCOMMODATIONS/OTHER TOPICS FOR THIS TECH TOOL:
- Once students are familiar with Scratch they can create games, animations for all areas of the curriculum.
- It is easy to modify the coding to create complexity, or to make it simple.
- They could also do an animation