Star Wars Day Scratch Project

I’ve had so much fun creating a special Scratch project that will form part of an interactive poster for an upcoming school display.  The Scratch project, “Star Wars Day” has two versions – one for a tablet and/or keyboard device, the other for use with a MaKey MaKey invention kit.

Inspiration for the project came while I was listening to some music from Star Wars as my 13 year old daughter played the violin.  As I listened to “The Imperial March” by composer, John Williams, some of the notes played by my daughter just happened to correspond with the famous Darth Vader theme.  This gave me an idea to create a type of Scratch tutorial that would give people the opportunity to learn how to play part of the them.

Soon after came the MaKey MaKey version, that allowed us to connect real world objects such as a small Darth Vader toy wrapped in wire that could be touched to hear an excerpt from The Imperial March, as well as an egg carton covered in foil that could be used as a keyboard.

But it didn’t stop there!  Students are still being asked to “Make a poster…” on a regular basis.  I thought this might be a good opportunity to show what was possible when you explore the concept of an interactive poster.  The MaKey Makey invention kit, connected to an old laptop running the Scratch project, Talking Point recording devices, QR Codes and lots of different items and surfaces provided an interactive and tactile experience for the display.

I’ll provide further information about the interactive poster in a future post but, for now, I’ll leave you with a look at the Scratch project, “Star Wars Day”.


Star Wars Day – Tablet & Keyboard Version
http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/19137314/

Star Wars Day – MaKey MaKey Version
http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/19662631/

Loving the Possibilities with QR Codes!

During our January school holidays, I enjoyed reading Jarrod Robinson’s post about QR Codes and their possible uses in education.  Prior to reading his post, I had seen QR Codes but had no idea of their purpose or possible uses.

Since returning to school, I have continued to follow Jarrod’s journey via his tweets on Twitter and have had very worthwhile (and fun!) discussions with my colleagues, Nathan and Stephen.

If you are not familiar with the concept of QR Codes, these sites are all an excellent introduction. A comprehensive site for information and news about QR Codes is the 2D Code site. Links to the Code Readers and Code Generators are particularly helpful.

For me, the first step was being about to use my mobile phone to read QR Codes.  I tested a number of QR Code Readers for the iPhone:

  • 2D Sense (free, includes move and scale feature)
  • Barcodes (free, includes move and scale feature)
  • iDecode (free)
  • NeoReader (free)
  • QR Reader ($2.49)
  • UpCode (Free)
  • Snappr (Free, includes move and scale feature)
It was an interesting exercise as its success appeared to be quite random.  In general, I found that readers with the ability to “move and scale” the code image had a better success rate.  The bigger the code, the easier it was to successfully decode it, whether it was on a computer screen or on paper.  The readers also differed in their speed of decoding.
Overall, my favourite iPhone QR Code Readers were:
  • Barcodes – free, has move and scale feature, decodes quickly, like the way it displays results in a simple format
  • Snappr – free, has move and scale feature, takes a little longer to decode but is able to read a variety of codes that other readers had trouble with
  • QR Reader – if the image is correct, does read the code very quickly

After working out how to actually read a QR Code, I started looking at creating my own codes. Snappr is a great site to generate your own QR Codes.  After signing up, I was “like a kid in a lolly shop” as I explored the different types of codes that could be created!

Snappr allows you to create many types of codes that fall under the headings of Classic, Social and Snappr. Codes can be created quickly and easily then embedded into a site, downloaded to insert into a document or printed on an item.  (Yes, people are printing their own QR Code t-shirts!)  The content of a code can even be edited later so that the actual QR Code image looks the same but the content is different. There are so many exciting possibilities for sharing information on this site.  It is definitely well worth a look! Click on the codes below to view a larger image and see if you can read them! There are four different types of codes to give you a taste of what is possible:

       

So now the big question is, “How can QR Codes be used in education?”  Again, Jarrod has some exciting ideas in his QR Codes in Education post.  We are particularly interested in looking into the following uses:

  • “The Amazing Race” using QR Codes: Codes could either be printed on a sheet and given to students or displayed in different locations.  Students could then access clues that are not just text-based, but include images, web sites, etc…  This adds a whole new dimension to this type of activity.
  • Sharing resouces with students: Because you can create QR Codes that link to content such as images and audio files, students can easily access these items via their mobile phones.  This could have exciting possibilities for student access to content such as podcasts.
  • QR Codes on library books:  During a Twitter discussion, Jarrod suggested QR Codes on library books with a link to a web site, audio file, etc… with additional information about the book. 🙂
  • Add QR Codes to printed materials: If you need to give a printed copy of information to students, you can add QR Codes with links to online resources.  Students are then able to easily access this extra content without the need for a computer.
  • Voting via QR Codes: Snappr allows you to create codes that link to an online voting system. This is a great way to quiz your students or gauge their opinions.   
  • Create a Snappr Micropage: Snappr also allows you to create a Micropage. This is a basic web page with a title, images, text and URLs.  The page is optimized for viewing on a mobile phone.
This is just a starting point. As I have discovered on so many occasions, educators are amazing when it comes to “thinking outside the square” and I am sure there will be many more suggestions for innovative ways to use QR Codes in education.
For a list of sites about QR Codes and related information, please go to my links on Delicious.
You can also view some screenshots about this post on my Flickr set, QR Codes in Education.
At our school, I am looking forward to displaying some QR Codes in our Computer Centre and around the school to generate some interest in this exciting technology.  I think this prize might be the first reward I offer: 😉