Edugaming Scratch Notes

by on Aug.03, 2012, under - Show All Posts, Project-Related

I’ve listed below a tight clustering of educational tools/games that gave me the inspiration/ability to begin creating things. I would unequivocally recommend them to almost any curious kid, and I would absolutely love it if they could be packaged together into something cohesive. That’s what excites me most about Airy Labs might do!
If there’s nothing else on this list that you’ll see, check out Stagecast Creator (video) — an incredible graphical game-making environment for kids that introduced me to programmatic thought. It’s seriously awesome.
Among others things, there is a children’s homeless shelter near MIT that I want equip with toys that retrace the steps of my own learning minus the stumbling blocks. I don’t see homeless children, I see future hacking partners, employees, and employers 😉 I see the Mouse Army from Diamond Age. One of the achievements I was most proud of in high school was that I was able to inspire fellow students to start programming for fun, and subsequently hire them as web developers — I feel like there is huge potential to do the same for many others via life-guiding technology.
Basically, I want to create a series of apps that, like a perfect parent, suggests how you should schedule your day, spend your time, etc. and effortlessly connects you with the software, games, etc. that are  best for you to explore at that point in your life. This  dovetails beautifully with an element of another project I’m working as part of admitsphere.org (a wiki where successful college applicants share essays/advice): the “what to do in high school” pages (2). Imagine there were an app that guided students through high school, suggesting that they explore various contests, that gently guided them into the areas that they would enjoy most.

(It might amuse you to note that I wrote to Jeff Lim about a year ago: “of the Thiel projects, I’m particularly excited about Andrew Hsus Airy Labs. it’s like Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age, which features the ultimate teaching device, ‘a Young Lady’s illustrated primer’, which is a book that figures out the optimal way to teach you in your environment, and then tells you stories and gives you games to train you appropriately.”)
Also, I’m extremely interested in the progression of your own interests Andrew! I would love to know: how did you get into some of things that you got into? What’s something you think is awesome, and why? I’ve been building a really, really informal wiki called WhyIsItAwesome that tries to document this kind of data. I’m working on a project I’m calling CuriosityThread, and I’m super interested in the series of questions that you asked to gain the knowledge you have. Project description: “Site that shows the chain of questions/interests a person asked/followed to gain the knowledge they have. Perhaps to partially populate this site, Wikipedia could track threads of browsing, and scrolling. Subsequently, tutorials (even a textbook!) customized to the curiosity profiles of different people could be made of it? Relatedly, creating a web database of the series of questions bright students ask could be extremely powerful. I would love, for instance, to have documentation of the series of questions one of my friends asked over the course of his life to ultimately gain the knowledge to get gold at the International Chemistry Olympiad.”
Gui-based game creation engines – intro’d me to programmatic thinking:
Stagecast Creator http://www.stagecast.com/ (learned at ID Tech Camp)

Multimedia Fusion  http://www.clickteam.com/website/world/ (learned at ID Tech Camp)

Starcraft campaign editor — I really enjoyed making games that seemed hard to fit into the Starcraft universe, like Set. Or maybe less cerebrally, Battlefield from Bonus.com, a formerly popular MMO tank game.
Web Programming
Neopets HTML Guide— intro’d web dev
<there is a void of tools at the intermediate level here How to Teach Yourself Web Development is my lame stopgap>
hackthissite.org/ — makes you feel like you’re doing something subversive
Photoshop, once learned from a friend
Reading Blaster 2000 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reading_Blaster_2000 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGQjX13LBg8 — The aspect of this game that I liked most was that you unlocked a new chapter of an exciting story whenever you beat enough games
Secret Writer’s Society http://www.superkids.com/aweb/pages/reviews/writing/1/sws/merge2.shtml — it made you feel like you are doing something subversive by writing
Lego Mindstorms 2.0 (this tour video captured everything for me http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlKg0pXWywg)
Inspiration: Robot Wars (UK TV Series) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHr6lsqQe20
Robot Arena 2 (all visual, but creativity-inspiring) http://www.robotarena.com/
Robocode (programming) http://robowiki.net/ http://programmers.tpclubs.com/robocode/ — makes you feel like you’re doing something subversive — you’re not supposed to make robots that fight but it’s fun. My Robocode tutorial(s) http://programmers.tpclubs.com/robocode/
Programming Video Games for the Evil Genius — a guy I know at MIT wrote this when he was 15! (well, I guess that’s not too impressive to some of you :P)!

Relatedly, I’m very interested in exergaming. I think that there should be an exercise bike Wii extension that lets you play the most awesome racing games by pedaling (my favorites happen to be MarioKart, Diddy Kong Racing, and LEGO Racers). I’ve seen lame exergaming bikes that are attached to nonfun racing games, but this seems like a no-brainer project to do for a hackathon or something.


1 Comment for this entry

  • Billie

    Hey, Jacob,
    Thanks for letting us borrow your computer during our recent visit to campus. Our son saw your email…hope you guys will meet.

    I wonder if I can help you in your quest to equip the homeless shelter near MIT with toys. I’m in the educational toy business. Let’s talk.

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