Testing Kinect2Scratch: Part 2

In our previous post, we explained how we have been testing Stephen Howell’s amazing Kinect2Scratch program.  In this movie, one of our students tests the Kinect2Scratch Music game followed by Space Invaders.

In our original test of the Space Invaders game, we were unable to get the shooting action working by raising our arms.  However, after a quick tweet to Stephen Howell, he very kindly published some additions that we were able to add to Scratch in order to get the full functionality.  He also very kindly added a new game, Kinect2Scratch Music, for us to test.  As I set up my computer for the students to test this game, even I had no idea what awaited us!  It was great to share in the excitement with the students!

Testing Kinect2Scratch: Part 1

We have spent the past week testing Stephen Howell’s amazing software, Kinect2Scratch.  Wow! This is such an exciting development in games creation and, in particular, the use of the Kinect Sensor Camera with one of our favourite free software programs, Scratch.

We have previously used Scratch 4 OpenSim as part of our Virtual Worlds Project and are huge fans of the Scratch software.  Not only has Stephen created Kinect2Scratch but he has also shared a number of games that can be easily modified by altering the Scratch Blocks and their settings.

Our movie shows some students testing the Ball Bounce and Skeleton games.  By installing the regular Scratch program, some additional Kinect software and connecting the Kinect Sensor Camera directly to a PC, we suddenly have an exciting way to not only play games but for learners to easily create their own Kinect games. 

Inside the Game

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Inside the Game This term, we are very excited to be focusing on games creation and the architecture of games. In future posts, we’ll outline aspects of our Inside the Game project in greater detail.  In particular, we are exploring … Continue reading

The Xbox Kinect: Exploring the possibilities

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I have a new role at my school this year as Head of eLearning & Library Resources.  Part of our vision for the Library is for it to become the “digital hub” of the school.  It is a place where staff can participate in ICT Professional Learning and experiment with technology.

I was fortunate enough to attend the 2010 VITTA Conference.  One of the many highlights for me was the Microsoft Kinect Lounge where I had the opportunity to try the Kinect system for myself.  I was taken by the amazing graphics, engaging games and the ease of which I could control the activities through simple gestures.  I was keen to trial the use of the Kinect system at school to see where it could take us.

The 2010 Horizon Report for Australia and New Zealand predicts that we will see a widespread adoption of Augmented Reality within the next two to three years and, within the next four to five years, the widespread use of gesture-based computing.  Yes, some people are sceptical about the relevance of this type of technology in education but with sites such as KinectEDucation emerging and Stephen Howell‘s work with Kinect and Scratch, there is no denying that there are exciting possibilities!

On Friday, we hosted two groups of staff in our Library where they had the opportunity to use Kinect Adventures. The first session was only 20 minutes long due to a school event and was made up of teachers currently participating in our ICT Professional Learning Teams Program.  The second session was an afternoon tea for members of our ICT Department.

Although our first session was brief, it was long enough for the teachers to try Kinect Adventures.  They worked in pairs to complete “River Rush” where they quickly learnt that communication and cooperation were necessary in order to successfully navigate the challenging white water rafting course.  What I loved about this session was the way the teachers jumped straight into the activities with so much enthusiasm.  (Friday Period 5 can be a challenging time for students and staff!)  They immediately recognised the educational value in the Kinect system and asked, “Where is this heading?  How can I use this with my students now?”  This then lead to a discussion about the use of the Kinect camera with a PC where students could create their own games.  (If you haven’t seen Stephen Howell’s amazing Kinect games created with Scratch, then you must!)

Scratch and Kinect from Stephen Howell on Vimeo.

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Our second session was a “Kinect Afternoon Tea” and designed to offer our ICT Department staff some “time out”.  We are very fortunate to have fabulous technical and “behind the scenes” staff.  What struck me about this session was the team spirit and healthy competition that quickly emerged.  They were encouraging each other and keen to see who was going to get the top score.  This was a use for the Kinect system that I had overlooked – staff team building.  Up to that point, I had focussed only uses only for students.  We decided that we would have to buy a trophy and acknowledge the “Kinect Champion”!

This week, during our ICT Professional Learning Teams Program, we will be discussing Augmented Reality in more detail and other teachers will have the opportunity to try the Xbox Kinect system for themselves.  I’m looking forward to the week ahead! 🙂