Attleboro kids to design digital games

By Jim Hand jhand@thesunchronicle.com

Jul 19, 2018

ATTLEBORO — Some children go to summer school for enrichment, such as lessons in art or a foreign language.

Others go to make up for failed courses.

At Coelho Middle School this week, one class of students went to learn how to design video games.

 

In a collaboration between the school department and an education group called Tinker and Create, 20 students were able to get lessons in the subject for four days.

Tinker and Create is an organization of teachers who provide after school and summer programs to engage students in science, technology, engineering and math.

Sue LeVine of the school department said Tinker and Create was hired with part of a $20,000 grant she got from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The goal is to excite the children to learn by applying academic subjects such as math and physics to a fun activity, such as playing video games, Doug Tepe of Tinker and Create said.

He said math gets used in writing codes for the games while physics is applied by using real-life rules such as gravity and acceleration in the games.

On Thursday, Sasha Whirl, 11, was off to the side of the classroom by herself adding what she called “blueprints” to her game, such as tunnels.

“I’m putting a bunch of things together. It’s fun for me because I like computers. I really like video games and messing around with them,” she said, adding later:

“I would play on computers all day if my parents would let me.”

Tim Amaral, 11, was designing a unique soccer game in which the player stood on his head.

 

He said there was really no object to the game, where there was no soccer net, but he was having fun.

Jayden Carrier, 11, learned the hard way there were limits to the games.

His computer screen froze, apparently, he said, because he had too many balls falling from the sky too fast.

The students were from all three city middle schools and enrollment was limited to 20 to make the class manageable.

“Our collaboration with Tinker and Create offers STEM enrichment opportunities for our students. It exposes them to real world applications and software, inspiring them to continue to investigate STEM careers. We look forward to expanding our partnership in the future to offer more courses after school as well as the summer,” Laurie Regan, assistant superintendent of schools, said.

 

Jim Hand may be reached at 508-236-0399 or jhand@thesunchronicle.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TSCpolitics.

Youngsters work on their project at a robotics program at the Canton Public Library, presented by Tinker & Create. [Wicked Local photo/Alexandria Sauders]

By Alexandria Saunders

Posted Apr 26, 2018 at 9:10 AM

  

What do humans and robots have in common? They can both drive each other crazy! But they also can teach the other new things about technology and the world around them.

Thanks to a three-day robotics program at the Canton Public Library, kids of all ages have received this opportunity brought to them by Tinker & Create, a group of educators that teach students how to apply science and technology.

At least 21 youngsters participated in, “Robotics – Creating Electronics Instruments,” that included topics such as 3D printing, app and web design, podcasting, and animation.

Course instructor Conor Smith taught the students, placed into small groups, how to connect an Arduino board to a computer baseboard using colored wires. They then connected both units to a computer using a USB cord, which would download the software onto it.

Others worked on Fruity Loops, a digital audio workstation similar to GarageBand.

“A lot of them are working on songs in the meantime... playing around and making music,” Smith said.

Even if the students never use Fruity Loops again, he wants them to know they can use this technology for things such as temperature control and wifi, and even turning lights off and on.

Smith doesn’t just teach robotics.

“I’m also teaching one course in Python coding,” he said. “And before this, I was doing research in the field of quantum computation and information.”

Smith said that enjoys “the process of making all of these things – that’s how I was originally interested in it.”

He has taught robotics to everyone from third-graders to college sophomores for about eight years.

 

Operating robots was just a click away at a robotics program at the Canton Public Library, presented by Tinker and Create. [Wicked Local photo/Alexandria Sauders]

Canton youngsters

tinker with robots 

Canton library technician Matt Amory, who got the word out about the program during spring break, said Tinker & Create not only puts these types of programs on for adults and children in libraries, community centers, YMCAs, boys and girls clubs, and schools,” and how anybody can join in, not just children.

Melissa Roche, 10, has attended other robotic camps both in and out of school, and wanted to try something more advanced.

“It also amazes me how a 3D printer works,” she said.

Etay and Maria Armon of Sharon created Tinker and Create last year because they wanted their girls to “have more STEM experiences and be more solution-oriented when confronting obstacles in their lives,” Etay said.

They created a 3D program and an app design curriculum for them.

“When they responded in a positive way and started using these tools for school and out of school projects, we realized that our girls, their friends, and kids in general can benefit from these types of experiences in science and technology,” Etay said.

They now have 23 programs with 300 participating students.

“We bring the laptops, software, 3D printer, projector, and all needed materials to the venues where we operate so that experiencing our courses is as easy as possible for the venues, parents, and students involved,” Etay said. “In our different courses kids learn about and use tools like HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, Unreal Engine, SketchUp, Blender, Windows Movie Maker, Audacity, and Fruity Loops.”

For information, visit www.tinkerandcreate.com

By Mike Gleason 
Daily News Staff 

Posted May 4, 

2018 at 10:20 AM

 

 SHARON - For a short while Tuesday afternoon, students got a chance to do what most kids only dream of - play video games in the classroom. Those children - from the third through fifth grade - were taking part in a Heights-Elementary-based after-school class, intended to teach them the basics of digital game design. The class was run the company Tinker and Create, and offered through Sharon Community Education. Instructor Doug Tepe, a Sharon resident himself, said the six-week class would teach students about using the Unreal engine to create their own games. “Because it’s totally graphic-oriented it’s a good introduction to programming without getting into a language,” he said, adding that the class would help teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts in an entertaining way. “We’re sneaking (instruction) in as a fun diversion.”

Over the course of the program, Tepe said, the children would be creating a scavenger-hunt game. “Students often have great ideas, because they have no preconceptions about what a game is or is not,” he said. “I’ve seen all sorts of clever ideas come from students.” In the first session of the class, students discussed their favorite games and the aspects they share. Tepe told them about the various genres games fall into, and what defines those categories. “It’s to help them get to feel at ease,” Tepe said. During the class, students called out the games they enjoy playing - including such experiences as Roblox, Skyrim, Castle Crashers, Fortnite, Minecraft and Dunk Shot. Tepe had the children try out a number of games and asked them to sort them by genres and pick out their distinguishing characteristics.

Etay Armon, who co-founded Tinker and Create, said, although this session of the class was full, he hoped to be able to offer it again in the future. He said the company had previously offered another course through Sharon Community education, focused on digital comic book design. The class, he said, was held at the town’s East Elementary School.

  

Mike Gleason can be reached at 508-316-2809 or mgleason@wickedlocal.com. For news throughout the day, follow him on Twitter @MGleason_MDN.

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