Scratch Maze games are the central project of Fourth Grade Tech. The unit is designed to build on the programming students learn in Second and Third Grade. When they dive in enthusiastically to their create their games, students develop their more advanced programming skill. At the beginning of the year, students bring their unique mazes, heroes, obstacles and backgrounds into Scratch and this art becomes part of their own imaginative world. With Scratch code, Fourth Graders command their heroes to move with the arrow keys, and their obstacles to travel according to x y coordinate grid. With Scratch’s broadcast features and if statements, students construct a “magical” key that unlocks a door. When they program their original soundtrack to change at different stages of the the action, students uses variables. By emphasizing art, animation and musical composition as well as computational thinking, this unit enables students to combine their creativity and passions with step by step problem solving. When they help on another debug their code, students actively participate in a collaborative learning environment.
At the conclusion of this unit, the class will enjoy playing each other’s games and if scheduling allows, they will invite their buddies try them out. Finished games with also be uploaded to students’ google drive accounts so they can show the games to their families.
How many medals did the USA win at the 1980 Olympics? How does that number compare with number of gold, silver and bronzes that the Soviet Union received? Why did the total number of medals for the Soviet Union’s drop to zero in 1992?
Fourth graders explore historical Olympic Data on an interactive New York Times site.
Examining dynamic visualizations helps students develop a deeper understanding of world events, history, and geography.
Students go on to browse, sort and graph the data collected from their peers in a Google Drive spreadsheet. What board games, movies and books are most popular among Third and Fourth Graders? As they search according to more than one criteria, students employ Boolean logic. Do any fourth graders have the same favorite movie and book as me? They also make predictions. Last year, cookie dough was the most popular ice cream and blue was the most popular color. What will the most popular colors and ice cream flavors and colors be in 2017?
With mBlockly, a programming language that look a lot like Scratch, students control the mBot robot. Can we command this robot to follow a specific path through a maze, display and LCD, or turn at 90’? A new challenge this year: students will attempt to send messages from one mBot to another. When they use a different programming language that based on Scratch, students begin to see how computational thinking concepts extend across different programming languages.
Vector-Based Graphics for Design
When they use handles and transformation tools in a drawing program like Twist or Adobe Illustrator, students begin to understand how vector graphics differ from pixelated graphics. With drawing programs, they create geometric objects that can be resized and transformed and make their own patterns and design documents. During the choice unit at the end of Fourth Grade, student designs can be printed, cut or carved.
As they tell stories through simple animations, students continue to develop digital design skills such as copying and pasting, distinguishing between objected oriented and pixelated graphics, and using layers. Students also will practice exporting their creations as movies so they can share them with their families and buddies. For inspiration, we will watch animations from the New York International Children’s Film Festival.
During the last unit of Fourth Grade Tech, students can choose:
Creating 3D models with Tinkercad
Designing for the Carvey CNC printer
Designing for the Cricut printer that cuts
Exploring more advanced Scratch challenges
Programming tutorials in the text-based Python language