Every year the State Library of Queensland hosts Fun Palace, a world wide celebration of arts and sciences, in Brisbane.

We delivered two activities at Fun Palace: “Build your first computer game” workshop & Dance Dance Revolution – Makey Makey installation.

We ran numerous “Build your first computer game” workshops throughout the day where children were invited to learn to write code for their first computer programme using Scratch.

The public were welcomed and danced on our Dance Dance Revolution – Makey Makey installation where children got to learn about circuits, conductive and non-conductive materials and integrating software and hardware.

Build your first computer game workshop

We ran three “Build your first computer game” workshops throughout the day. They were all busy but the final session for the day was a full house. We even had children coding on laptops whilst sitting on bean bags.

Firstly we familiarised ourselves with the Scratch interface, then explored X-Y coordinates, including negative numbers and looping forever. We programmed Scratch cat to walk back and forth, bouncing off the edge of the screen.

After the introduction to Scratch we started building our first computer game: “Leap over the frog.”

The game is made up of three parts:

  1. Cat – jumps when you press space key
  2. Frog – automatically moves from right to left until the end of the game
  3. Game over – game ends when the cat touches the frog

With two sprites and a handful of coding blocks you can build your first computer game.

Makey Makey – Dance Dance Revolution installation

Makey Makey + Scratch + arts and crafts = homemade Dance Dance Revolution

The Makey Makey – Dance Dance Revolution installation is a digital board game made using Makey Makey and Scratch. Dance Dance Revolution (aka DDR) was a popular arcade game in the 1990s and was also available on various video game consoles. DDR is a simple project that you can build at home or in a classroom to teach children about coding and circuitry.

We used Scratch to write our code and build the computer programme to operate the digital board game. Here is the link to our Scratch DDR game.

We used Makey Makey to build our input device. We created the DDR play mat using:

  1. Cardboard
  2. Aluminium foil
  3. Copper tape (can be replaced with aluminium foil)
  4. Sticky tape
  5. Paper
  6. Book cover adhesive (contact)

We connected the Makey Makey to the DDR mat and the laptop. Then it was good to go.

It was great to see our homemade DDR game work at Fun Palace. The children (and adults) had a lot of fun and it was great to see curious minds at work trying to make sense of how the circuitry and the Scratch programming worked.

By the end of the day our DDR play mat got a bit worn, but it was still a great prototype to test circuitry using simple materials like aluminium foil and sticky tape. It’s a fun and creative project that can teach computer programming, circuitry, arts and crafts and user testing.

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