Saturday, 28 February 2015

Scratch for Primary Children

2015 February 28 and March 22

Thank you very much for attending our Scratch workshop! This was the first experience at building an actual program for the children, and they all did very well to understand so many concepts and learn new technical vocabulary.

We covered the following concepts:

  • forever and repeat loops
  • if
  • variables
  • positive and negative directions on the x-y plane

and learned many other things to do with using Scratch and changing the way things look or sound or move.

Files used for teaching are here:

The original files with the kids' work were sent by e-mail. They are for Scratch 1.4 (download version, same as Raspberry Pi).

We have also made the kids' programs available on the Scratch website. They have been converted to the online version of Scratch (Scratch 2), and won't work on the Raspberry Pi.

(updated with games from the second workshop)

Car1 and dragon3 are samples to experiment with. The rest are the kids' projects and begin with the initial of the child who made them.

Children who brought their own Raspberry Pi will not see their projects here, because we don't have a copy.

Thank you once again, and we hope to see you again soon!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Python (Minecraft-Pi) Workshop

2014 August 12-13

This two-day workshop was for students with some prior programming experience who wanted to learn some Python.
There were three attendees, aged 11, 15 and 16. Two were bilingual in Japanese and English, and the third was learning English. All had programmed in Scratch before and one had some experience with Mindstorms. This was the first time any of them had typed code to create programs!

We used Raspberry Pis with Minecraft-pi, and the Geany editor for programming in Python.

Day One:

  1. Python basics: editor, running programs, input and output to console and easygui
  2. For and while loops, if..elif..else. 
  3. Introduction to Minecraft Python 

Day Two:

  1. Functions. 
  2. Lists.
  3. Project work
  4. Presentation of work to parents
Files used for teaching are here:

We were visited on the second day by Prof. Inoue of Hiroshima City University (professor of computer science)

We made some short stop-motion clips of the projects. None of the building was done manually in Minecraft. itself. Everything was built by the Python programs.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Karuizawa Summer School Scratch Workshop

19-31 July 2014

There were 80 participants in this summer school, aged 13 and 14. All students took four two-hour long Scratch programming lessons, in classes of 27 students. There were four university student assistants, and my son, helping me teach each class. The following was presented during the first two lessons:

  • Scratch UI - getting around and getting things done
  • Loops - forever, repeat, forever if, repeat until
  • if, then, else, nested ifs, testing for conditions and events
  • variables
  • broadcasts
  • tips for building games and animations that connected to the summer school theme
Students were placed in teams of 3 for the final two lessons, and given the task of creating a game or animation related to the summer school experience, and to explore the possibilities of using games and animations to draw attention to an important issue.

The task was quite demanding for only 8 hours of class, including presentations, so unfortunately many projects were not finished. Projects can be viewed at the summer school Scratch account:

Students were offered a Raspberry Pi to take home. 40 were taken. There were many positive comments about the course from students and other teachers.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Advanced Scratch Workshop

29-30 March 2014

This workshop was for students already proficient in Scratch. The aim was to explore more advanced features to create more sophisticated games.

There were 4 participants in this workshop. Two were bilingual Japanese and English, and two were learning English.

Day One:
lists (items, attributes, highscores)
Raspberry Pi systems administration

Day Two:
sophisticated motion - gravity, friction
simple AI - computer vs player
project work
presentation of games to parents

Files I used for teaching can be found at:

Projects are online at:

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Turtle Programming Fun

26 Jan and  23 Feb 2014

These two single-day workshops were for young programmers aged 6-8

In total, 16 children attended, the majority of them Japanese kids who had attended international kindergarten, and therefore knew some English. A handful had a foreign parent and were bilingual.

We began by playing the famous Kickstarted game Robot Turtles:

Then we moved on to a simulation of the game on Raspberry Pi. Finally, children used actual Scratch blocks in another turtle game.
Both of these games I created on Scratch 1.4 for Raspberry Pi, but I also uploaded versions to my Scratch account (therefore Scratch 2):

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Scratch Workshop

28-29 December 2013

There were 8 participants in this workshop, aged 11 - 15, boys and girls, mostly bilingual English and Japanese. Approximately half had some prior programming experience. During 10 workshop hours over two days, the following was presented:

  • Scratch UI - getting around and getting things done
  • Loops - forever, repeat, forever if, repeat until
  • if, then, else, nested ifs, testing for conditions and events
  • variables
  • broadcasts
  • tips for building games, and for presenting to parents

However, the bulk of the time was spent practicing these things and creating games - programming, testing, troubleshooting and so on.
We also had lunch together on both days and invited parents to a presentation at the end of the second day.
I was impressed by the variety of games created and the imagination shown.
Some of the older students produced really fine games in a short time.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Workshop Survey

Please complete the survey below to help us improve this course. The survey is anonymous, so please be honest. Please answer in Japanese if you prefer.