Students Create, Program Original Ed-Games via Doug Bergman and Porter-Gaud School

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Students Create, Program Original Ed-Games via Doug Bergman and Porter-Gaud School

Those who followed my EdJourney will recall my report on Doug Berman and his ground-breaking four year computer science program at Porter Gaud School in Charleston.  Doug Bergman is a nationally recognized teacher and his courses are a blend of open-ended projects on student-created ideas that he describes as “structured but chaotic”.  During my visit, Doug promised to share with me/us some of the projects his students have created, and he came through.  I watched some of the videos this morning and you will be as impressed as was I.  If you or your school has a STEM program with interests in programming; if you want some great examples of students taking their own passions and running with them; if you want to share with your colleagues what learning looks like when a great coach-teacher moves aside and lets the students take over… check out some of the following.  As a quick background, Doug has partnered with the P-G Lower School.  His 11th graders are programming their own X-Box games rooted in the school’s educational objectives. He groups two juniors with eight 5th graders who are market beta testers, coming in once a week to give feedback on the games. And this update just a few minutes ago:  two of the girls in the course (Doug very overtly is trying to entrain girls in this program) were just announced as two of five girls selected in South Carolina as recipients of the 2012 NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing for South Carolina (a women in technology award). Congrats ladies! So here are some of the Kinect, motion-based games that the students created.  There is no keyboard, mouse, or game controller for these “games”; the human body is the controller.  Doug also sent me information on games his students created using video controllers and some of their original websites, but I don’t want to overwhelm my blog readers!

The rest of this post is directly from Doug’s email to me:

McLean and Ben created Interactive Language Arts activities: Students “grab” words in the air with their hands. Then they can drop them into the appropriate basket (verb, noun, or adjective). Students can also highlight and un-highlight words, rearrange them into the correct order  and

Elen wrote a program that is an interactive Chemistry lesson. Her prototype “classroom” experience is meant to introduce the idea of how Kinect might be used in a subject area to allow a student to lead themselves through a series of activities, practices, procedure directions, or even to introduce new material. It’s a very interesting idea. Check it out:

Trey has taken his passion for football and also his personal experience of the hard-hitting nature of the sport and has written a program that might be used by an athletic trainer or doctor to help determine accurate readings for the standard concussion test. The user is led through 3 sequential tests of balance. These readings can be used to determine if the student might have a possible concussion.  Check it out:

Carter has taken her intense passion for cheerleading and has written a program that leads a person through the experience of an actual complex cheer sequence. As the camera “detects” the person has correctly completed each step, there is confirmation on the screen. Upon successful completion, you are rewarded with an actual video of a real cheerleader performing the cheer. Check it out:

Katherine wrote a program that tests whether the Kinect camera would work if the user is upside down. She found that it does! Her program leads the user through the actual experience of performing a full cartwheel. As the action is performed, her program takes 3 snapshots: one before, one during, and one after the cartwheel. Check it out:

What I especially loved about David’s project was that this semester was a blend of Math, Computer Science, problem solving, and presentation skills. On numerous occasions, we had the Math Department Chair in class discussing advanced math concepts needed for David to complete his Computer Science project. David has written a utility program, which shows how the human body can be used to generate angles and geometric shapes by repositioning your hands, arms, and torso. This program might be part of a larger program that could take advantage of the angles being generated by the body in real time.  Check it out:

Joe created an interactive music-learning program that allows the person to use their arms to actually touch various musical notes in the air around them, thus hearing various musical notes; kind of like an air piano

Nate & Daniel wrote a motion based game where you use your arms to simulate the experience of kayaking in a river as you paddle left and right to avoid the rocks in a flowing river.

Marcus and Ryan used the Kinect to teach students about geologic time periods. Students “grab” creatures out of the air, then place them at the correct geologic time zone.

Caroline and Jenny created a limbo game with a virtual bar, which challenges people to test their balance and dexterity.

Anderson worked on a first person viewpoint motion based Kinect soccer game.  As the goalie, try to block the shots fired off from random places and at random speeds. Watch out the soccer ball grows in size as it comes towards you.

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  1. […] Doug Berman, a visionary and award-winning teacher from Porter Gaud shot me a link to the video of students designing their own school at Monument Mountain Regional High in Massachusetts.  Many of you have already seen this; if you haven’t, you should.  Doug said they are living exactly what I had written in The Falconer a number of years ago, and he is spot on.  Not convinced? Have you watched the $1 million TED talk by Sugata Mitra?  If you are an educator and are not at least pondering the implications of this work, you’re eyes are glued to the rear view mirror. […]

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