CS4HS 2018

This two day conference was a brilliant opportunity to network with colleagues and up-skill in a number of areas. Below is a brief summary of the workshops I attended…

Game Froot
I had heard of Game Froot before but had not really had time to explore this platform. Game Froot is an Game Development coding environment that is surprisingly powerful. The basic version is free and everything is done ‘in browser’ which is a big plus as we don’t need to download extra software to create projects in Game Froot and students can easily continue working on their projects from any Internet connected computer.

One possible issue is that the engine can crash from time to time (this happened to me when trying to use the character maker). Another thing that worries me is that the material is stored on Game Froot’s servers and I don’t think there is a way for students to download (and keep) their games.

GF could be a really fun option for Y9 / Y10 as it is easy to make different levels of a game and the canvas is larger than that of scratch / snap.

This was an interesting session as we had a glimpse of a range of AR/VR technologies. The most promising are for me was looking at AR and thinking about how students can make content and then access it through their mobile phones. It is worth noting that if students have android phones (rather than iPhones), things are a lot easier, especially when it comes to them creating and sharing content.

Puhoro STEM Keynote
This was an inspirational session where the presenter showcased how collaboration between a tertiary provider (Massey University) and schools can be highly effective when it comes to raising Maori achievement. The hope is that at some point Massey High School will be able to participate in this program.

Puzzle Based Learning
This was a fun session involving using puzzles with students to enhance creativity. The main idea is that for puzzles to be effective you need independence (domain free); generality, simplicity, eureka factor and an entertainment factor.

In the workshop we looked at solving a series of fairly classic puzzles. The best thing about puzzles is that they are fun, help students to think in a different, creative way and can be extremely engaging. This workshop made me think about including some puzzle solving as part of my courses (ie: use puzzles as ‘do now’ activities or short activities to give students a break from more intensive tasks).

Javascript for Beginners
This was an extremely useful session as I have not had time to learn javascript on my own. We worked through a very simple program (higher / lower game) and by the end of the session I had a working game that looked attractive. This workshop inspired me to continue to learn javascript.

Overall Reflection
In many ways this was the best CS4HS yet. The workshops were really interesting and useful and I came away energised and refreshed. The conference exposed me to a number of ideas that were new and exciting and the hope is that I will be able to use some of the material with my classes in 2019.