July 17, 2007

Innovating with Scratch & ScratchBoard at MIT

Mit_media_lab We've just landed at MIT (Massachusettes Institute of Technology) Media Lab to have an explore, a play and stretch our skills on Scratch, their free really simple programming, game-making, digital storytelling programme. We're also looking at how physical real-world objects can interact with the Scratch programme you create.

Some basic programme ideas
Interacting with the mouse:
PlayWithYourFace: Allows you to play with a photo by moving your mouse around the screen.

Interacting with sound:
By using the senses programme elements you can have an object increase size or decrease size depending on how loudly you talk. I'm thinking of digital stories which actually respond or allow you to move on depending on how loudly the class are able to respond to the old "fee, foe, fie, fum!".

Mitchel Resneck's own favourites are a great source of some nice programmes which you can take to bits and examine.

Physical Objects
The mouse or microphone are the obvious things that input to your computer and change what's going on. The sensor board (ScratchBoard) that one of the MIT Media Lab guys has created, has sound, light and movement sensors which can work with the sense programme elements in Scratch to make an image become brighter on screen when the sensor sees more light, or darker when it is covered up - or the opposite.

Alligator clips, cables themselves, different combinations of resistors and capacitors, musical instruments, electric pianos... anything can create an electrical resistance and therefore all kinds of possibilities. I mean, we even saw someone play the banana skin (and I've taken video evidence!) [also in Google Video].


I'm thinking here of the possibilities for additional support needs, where we have a nice, varied alternative to the traditional switches that are used. The picture of a relative, for example, could be made to appear or not appear as the movement of the child manipulates a sensor.

For anyone wanting to create interactive physical-computer-based projects, you might think about creating some switches from copper foil on a map of the world - and you end up with an interactive game about the seven wonders of the world (again, the video explains even better) [also in Google Video].


I've bought four limited edition ScratchBoards back for some Scottish schools. One thing: you'll have to provide your own banana skins. (Otherwise, you can order yours here before they run out).


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I want a shot - I'll provide the banana! Cool video, BTW

Magnificent and wonderful!!! Thank your for capturing and sharing these tools at work.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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