Milwaukee Montessori School student Shireen Z. was one of only 12 students in the country to win President Obama's 2011 National STEM Video Game Challenge.
Read more about Shireen's game here.
Interested in playing the STEM-challenge-winning game yourself? Click here to try your hand at "Discover..."
Latest Happenings in the Tech Lair
The Etiquette Game
The MMS Technology curriculum’s Game Design unit is in full swing, with the first crop of original coded video games easing into fruition.
Students from 5th through 8th grade have been programming original video games using Scratch, a web based programming language developed by the MIT. Following lessons in Game Design Theory, students were challenged with creating learning games based on an ascribed topic.
In the case of our Junior High, the topic was table manners and dining etiquette.
The topic of etiquette was chosen for two reasons:
- It would provide a unique challenge in terms of designing a game, as not many video games exist on this topic.
- Knowledge of proper etiquette is often neglected despite how crucially valuable it can be to secure opportunities in the adult world
Check out a few examples of the game produced by our Junior High students below!
Recreating History from Scratch
Junior High tech students are currently finishing up an assignment using Scratch, a programming language developed at MIT (http://scratch.mit.edu/), to program a simple animation of an historical figure of their choice. Once they've finished their simple animation, students will use the program Audacity to record and edit a historical speech or dialogue from that figure. The students began by finding an image of their figure, cutting that image out and then drawing the body using vector graphics within Scratch rather than using a bitmap image.
The next step is to animate their figure as it recites a piece of historical dialogue. To do this, the student uses his or her own voice and then edits it to sound similar to what their historical figure sounded like or may have sounded like.
The reasoning behind this lesson is to not only give our students practice in animation, but to allow them to creatively express their research and demonstrate their knowledge in history. By introducing Scratch as another means to present information learned, students will be equipped to use the technology for an upcoming assignment on the life and presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. The project also serves to provide practice in programming syntax, which will be integral as they progress into game design.
Watch some examples of these historical Scratch animations below!
Click here to see Jackson S.'s animation of Isaac Newton.
Learn who really pioneered the moonwalk through Madison K.'s animation here.
Click here to see Elyse C.'s hard-hitting creation.
Visit a young heroine by watching Olivia E.'s animation here
3D Printing at MMS
Last year, MMS received a grant to purchase a 3D printer to be used in conjunction with MinecraftEdu (read more about how we use MinecraftEdu at MMS) and the World Peace Game, a hands-on political simulation that allows players to explore the connectedness of the global community. Starting with MinecraftEdu, students will design virtual game pieces to use while playing the World Peace Game. The students will then see these virtual designs come to life using our 3D printer to create actual, plastic game pieces.
The printer works by melting down plastic threadlike material and printing layer by layer until the 3D object has been fully formed. Right now, we are experimenting printing a form of a human hand with simple joint that we will eventually program to move. We look forward to using the 3D printer so students can immerse themselves in industrial design, manufacturing real models designed using 3D modeling and animation software, building simple machines, custom lines of jewelry or household objects and even working parts to assemble their own robot.
3D Zoology Alert
Another way students are using the Makerbot Printer is in their study of reptile physiology. Using Digimorph.org, a National Science Foundation Digital Libraries Initiative that documents 2D and 3D models of various animals and other organisms both living and extinct, students transpose the skeletal portion of their studied reptiles and use the Makerbot 3D printer to enhance their diagramming and labeling projects.
For 2D diagrams, students use a vast array of software tools, including Art Rage, Animationish, Sketchup, 3D Crafter, Blender, or they may opt to draw their diagrams by hand on electronic or actual paper. We no longer dictate which software our students should use to complete assignments; after receiving the criteria for their projects, they decide which tools will best lead them to the results they want to achieve.
Right: Crocodile skull printed by student who, in an animal anatomy lesson, learned to determine the difference between an alligator and a crocodile based on the features of their skeleton.
Recreating Ancient Greece
By studying student curriculum in Ancient Greece, and identifying the social and cultural values of the civilization, MMS 6th grade students set out to design their own Spartan School in MinecraftEdu as it might appear in Ancient Greece. Replete with sections specialized for the teaching of combat and physical fitness, the Spartan School also included spaces for teaching philosophy and music.