2C: Teaching Kids Programming with Scratch & Kinect

Saturday October 22, CFA 317 @ 10:45a - 12:45p

A unique workshop for teachers, parents, and kids (ages 8 and up)!
This workshop by Stephen Howell will provide the means by which anybody age 8 and up can develop their own interactive motion-capture games for the Kinect! Using Kinect2Scratch (a free bridging library developed by the presenter), the workshop will demonstrate 5-minute game creation with the free Scratch language, and provide methods for interfacing Kinect “skeleton” data (the users’ body joints) into Scratch programs.

Many primary and secondary schools have no formal programming instruction at any level, and evangelizing computational thinking and logical problem-solving is a major challenge. Scratch, a free educational tool from MIT, addresses this by framing computer programming as a curiosity-driven, arts-oriented, creative activity — in a “building block” environment which students and teachers can learn very easily. More than 2 million programs, many of which are interactive games, have been written and shared by young people using the Scratch language.

The Kinect depth sensor offers young programmers enticing possibilities for new forms of game design, but as C# and C++ are not languages in which they are likely to be skilled, kids can’t easily write code for the Kinect. Until now. With Scratch, a Kinect, and the bridging software provided in this workshop, a teacher can have a class writing motion-capture based games very quickly! (Workshop assisted by Elizabeth Perry, Scratch educator at the Ellis School, Pittsburgh.)

Recommended levels: Introductory. Some experience using or teaching Scratch would be helpful.
Recommended hardware/software: Please bring a Windows 7 laptop for proper and complete compatibility. (Participants using other operating systems, such as Windows XP, Vista or OSX will not be able to use live Kinect data.) A limited number of Kinect sensors will be available to borrow, but please bring your own if possible.


Stephen Howell’s workshop is made possible through the generous support of the Institute of Technology Tallaght, Dublin.

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