GET ANIMATED! – Prepared especially for the Easter 2022 H.A.F. Programme
Includes linked craft and physical activities, an interactive plant-based food talk plus healthy meals!
Although many school children get limited experience of coding through ‘drag and drop’ systems such as Scratch, we consistently find that our workshops give children their very first opportunity to create traditional program code. This generates tremendous excitement amongst the students when they see the results of their very own program: whether it is something simple like displaying their name on the screen or the overall workshop objective of animating graphics that THEY have designed.
We believe that, when returning to the classroom after the holidays, their experience of directly programming a computer will boost their confidence, increase their skill-set and give them a spring in their step as they head into the Summer term.
Design and animate video game graphics using BBC BASIC, the programming language of the original education computer, the BBC Micro.
Our pixel coding and animation workshops give a unique introduction to computer programming where the user is in direct control of the machine, unlike modern systems that require the use of software applications. By using this simple (by today’s standards) programming environment, users feel more in control over what the computer is doing.
Participants will gain hands-on experience of creating, editing and debugging programs which gives attendees an appreciation of what really goes on under the flashy user interfaces of modern systems and an understanding of how the principles of coding for a 40-year-old machine are still very much valid today.
Starting with a brief background of the BBC Micro and the part it played in British and global computing history, we illustrate its direct lineage to the modern smartphone.
Creating graphics for the programs requires the use of simple binary arithmetic (addition), with no prior knowledge of binary being required. Using graph paper to design and draw out the sprite characters, we then add up the bit patterns for entering into the programs (we start off by using a simple, automated option – which can also be used throughout the entire workshop by participants with low academic skills).
Participants then get hands-on as they try simple commands to create, edit and debug a BASIC program to animate their design. This will include an introduction to variables, how to make choices and how to repeat actions (loops) as well as advanced graphics.
Classic 80s Arcade Games
Children are given a break from coding to experience the sounds and thrills of a 1980s video games arcade with titles such as Pac Man, Space Invaders & Frogger.
Arcade game customisation
We enable participants to gain an even deeper understanding of coding concepts – such as the importance of procedural programming – by allowing them to customise existing arcade games with graphics that they design and program themselves.
The example below on the left shows a skeleton version of a classic “Blitz”-type game, with simple block graphics and no sound or colour; whilst the version opposite shows the same game but with user-defined sprites and featuring colour and sound effects.
Despite the simplistic nature of the games, participants will play their masterpieces over and over – which truly underlines the level of pride and satisfaction they take in seeing their sketches come to life in the form of a computer game they’ve themed themselves.
Blitz game – simple black and white version Blitz game – customised with new graphics and colour
Self-drawn graphics for an Invaders-styled game have been converted into binary ‘bit patterns’ and are being programmed directly into the computer using BBC BASIC.
Into the 90s with “RISC OS”
Our custom hardware setup also enables participants to experience how text based environments from the 1970s/80s – such as MS-DOS and BBC BASIC – transitioned into graphical user interfaces, by using a British-made operating system called RISC OS.
During the 1980s the majority of schools introduced the Acorn BBC Micro Computer into their classrooms. The following decade many schools, colleges and universities upgraded their IT suites with Acorn Archimedes/BBC A3000 computers, which used RISC OS. RISC OS bears many similarities to today’s graphical operatings systems such as Windows, Mac OS and Linux/Raspbian.
The Archimedes computers are of significant historical relevance today, as the processor at the core of the machines – Acorn Computers’ very own ARM chip – is Britain’s biggest ever success story from a technical perspective, as ARM chips now power 90% of the world’s smartphones and mobile/tablet devices.
Participants will explore the RISC OS desktop and applications before being treated to another gaming session featuring 1990s favourites such as Pacmania and Xenon 2.
The RISC OS 3 Desktop (1992) A Sprite Editor running on RISC OS
Pacmania: More Pacman action, now in 3D! Xenon 2: see how the Space Invaders concept evolved
Continuing the video game theme, our physical activity sessions feature custom visuals and audio from the hugely popular ‘rhythm action’ VR game Beat Saber.
Participants follow choreographed lightsaber sequences in time to music, using a pair of short plastic relay batons in place of virtual lightsabers.
The tracks get progressively faster and more complex, which means everyone involved can get a really good workout! Wheelchair users and those with low mobility can also enjoy our very unique activity.
Vintage Computer Papercraft Models
Our cut out and stick card templates allow participants to create their own miniature 3D models of vintage computers. They offer a fun way to learn even more about the kinds of computers and game consoles that were around way before touch screen technology, VR and laptop computers.
Later in the year, during our summer and winter activities, we will provide different papercraft templates, hence returning participants can continue to curate and grow their own personal mini computer and gaming console museum!
Acorn BBC Micro Computer (1981) Sinclair ZX Spectrum (1982)
Pixel Bead Craft
Here we allow attendees to turn some of the most iconic video game characters
of all time into impressive bead designs, using perler beads and pegboards.
All participants will be able to take their creations home in the form of a keyring.
Pacman Super Mario
Food and nutrition
- Plant-based meals
Breakfasts would consist of toast/muffins and a selection of cereal and fruit. Lunches would comprise a healthy, nutritious, plant-based hot meal.
Healthy snacks, water and squash available throughout all sessions.
- Plant-Based Eating & Nutrition
Developed by Educraft especially for the HAF programme, our informative and interactive presentation will cover the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. Includes a fun quiz. Recipe cards and handouts provided. Subject to space and COVID guidelines, parents and carers are encouraged to attend this element of the workshop, which will occur at the end of a session.
As a reward for their participation, all children will be given a printed certificate.
For more information about Educraft and the products, workshops and other services we can offer to schools, local authorities and events, please visit our website at educraft.uk or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.