Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Crayon Physics

I thought I'd stick this up, partly because I think it's amazing and partly so I don't forget about it, which shouldn't happen anyway!

This is a game designed and made by Petri Puhro, a student games developer who aims to make prototype games within a week. I see it almost as a graphically simplified version of LittleBigPlanet which I've posted about previously. To me this would be a good introduction to modelling and I believe the final version will come with a level editor meaning game design could be worked on. While I still think LittleBigPlanet will be the ultimate tool for these things, Crayon Physics will provide a simpler and cheaper alternative.

Here is a video demonstrating what Puhro calls the "deluxe" version on a tablet pc, but picture it working on your whiteboards!

Even better though, here is a link to the kloonigames blog where you can read about it and best of all download a prototype of this game, much more basic than the video shows, but still, you can see the potential for yourself!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More on Podcasting

First off, we've added a new Podcast to our blog; HattonPodcasts.
We've recorded a few more podcasts using podium and the kids are mostly really enjoying it. Some of the children do find doing something new difficult, but that can be true of anything new, it's certainly not specific to the podcasting.

What has been very consistent is the enjoyement that all the children have got from hearing their own voices. Those children who perhaps found it rather baffling that we wanted them to talk or sing into what is little more than a stick were often surprised, pleasantly so, at hearing themselves coming out of the computer. And then there were the children who fully understood what the microphone was for and what was expected of them, who took equal pleasure out of recording and, even better, re-recording their own little hellos, songs and even 1 rap! (I'm told its based on a Lethal Bizzle track, I have no idea who or what that is! How old do I feel?!)

It's that reward of hearing their own voices that has been so motivating as to get very quiet, even non-verbal children to utter a few sounds into the microphone. Things that may not wow the typical podcast listener, but for our school and the needs of the children these recordings are very rewarding for staff, parents and, of course, the children!

We've been trialing Podium, which has been a real pleasure to use. The simple interface and ability to hide un-wanted sections, such as the episode or chapter tabs, really gives a clean and simple work space that isn't too distracting or intimidating for the kids, something which the more complex podcasting software I've been shown can seem like. Not to say there isn't a place for all those switches and dials, I'm certain that the polishing that can be done to your podcasts with these is wonderful, but here, we're after the basics. We really just want to record and very simply cut and paste different parts together. Something I've found Podium ideal for, so we should be buying the full package soon.

I don't want to seem like I'm on SoftEase's payroll mind, so I should point out that I did find the buttons a little small. The pause and stop buttons that come up while recording are just right for our touchscreens and if the initial record button, at least, was a similar size to these, that would be ideal. Sometimes it can be useful that less used buttons are smaller and less of a distraction, but I feel that such a key operation as "record" should have more prominence.

I don't want to keep banging on about them, but please do give our podcasts a listen as I hope they show how we work to give all the children access to our technologies, regardless of their apparent "ability".

Friday, November 16, 2007


This morning we made a couple of podcasts.
One is a fairly standard affair, an introduction and then a song, while the other is a few sounds we recorded one child making as he played with the microphone. He clearly recognised what it was and began to play with it. For a child who makes little or no sound in school, we're very pleased with what we've recorded.
The link will remain to the right, but for now:
Hatton Podcasts

Monday, November 12, 2007


Just a quick post to show you a website I stumbled across recently.

http://www.jacksonpollock.org/ is designed by artist Miltos Manetas. It is inspired by the work of Jackson Pollock, in case you hadn't guessed, and works very nicely as a touchscreen game or, even better, on a whiteboard. The kids I've tried it with seem to enjoy the instant and colourful effect of touching the screen. Nice and simple, but effective!

I'll leave you to play with it, but if you want to print what you've created, I suggest pressing ALT then F then V, which will take you to the print preview without adding any more paint to your work. And if you're using IE7 you can adjust the size and shape as the image tends to get stretched out when printed.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


This morning I met With Anthony Evans to make plans for Podcasting work at Hatton, more of which I'll discuss in a later post. But during the morning I happened to mention a game called LittleBigPlanet.
If you're not the Playstation3 fan that I am you've probably not come across this, it's also not available till at least March '08! However, it's worth looking at as I believe it has some good potential for modelling work within ICT (If your school has those kind of resources!).
The game is essentially a platform game with small friendly looking characters who jump around collecting stuff. So far, nothing original, but the real hook of this game is it's creation element. The tagline for this game is "Play, Create, Share." which should demonstrate that the creation is a substantial part of the game.
What makes me think of this in terms of modelling within schools is the simplicity of the tools and the wonderful levels of realism generated. Real world physics combined with familiar materials mean that models can be built in the game that are extremely accurate and could be copied from or based on objects in the real world. For example, models could be built in class, using cereal boxes, cardboard tubes, yoghurt pots etc and then easily modelled in the game. They will look and act the same, but in a virtual environment. Check out the video to see the developers playing with it at the Game Developers Conference earlier this year:

When the QCA says that pupils should "understand that a computer can represent real or fantasy situations and that these do not replicate the original exactly" I guess they weren't looking that far ahead!