XModus Learning

Computer Science and Play-Based Learning for Kids

Winter 2021 Programs

(Jan - Mar, 2021)


  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

3:30 PM
4:30 PM

Minecraft Adventures
Ages 8+
  Python Game Programming
Ages 9+
Thunkable 3:30
Ages 9+
Minecraft Adventures
Ages 8+

4:30 PM
5:30 PM

Minecraft Adventures
Ages 8+
    Thunkable 4:30
Ages 9+
Python Game Programming
Ages 9+
 


Minecraft Adventures

Using the popular Minecraft video game kids work together in teams to solve puzzles and complete adventures with their teammates. Each class presents the kids with a different problem such as: math and economics in Farm Craft, team-based puzzles during the hunt for the Golden Pyramid and rescuing the missing scientists during the Island Rescue. Kids are challenged each class to interact with each other and encouraged to be creative, ask questions and help each other through the tasks. This is not kids sitting alone playing Minecraft, these are custom crafted adventures where kids work together to explore new ideas, make new friends, and solve problems.

Ages 8+

Computer Requirements:

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Minecraft FAQ:

What are the age groups for Minecraft?

  • Ages 8+ - for students 8+

What if my kid is younger than 8?
Sign them up next year. I am always willing to consider students on a case-by-case basis but don't want students to have a poor first experience simply because of their age. I have settled on 8-years old as my starting age for the program because of the complexities of the adventures and my experience working with students as young as 5. This is not kids freely building a house, this is kids working in teams to solve puzzles and that involves communication and teamwork.

Can they play this on their iPad?
No. Students require the Desktop Edition (Java Edition) of Minecraft on a Windows or Mac computer.



 

Python Game Programming (World of Py)

Come learn how to program using Python. Follow an instructor as they lead you step-by-step through each new concept and then put your new skills to the test by completing a programming challenge using your new skills. Once you've mastered the new concepts go crazy and modify and extend your code both in class and at home.

In this class we will be building a game called, "World of Py", a 2D tile-based platformer. World of Py has been described by students as a mix between Minecraft (although in 2D), Terraria, and Mario Maker. For returning students, we will continue where you left off but instead of the 'books' (ask your kids), I will be making a series of videos that you can follow during the class. As always the goal is to build a game with the support of a teacher.

Ages 9+

Computer Requirements:

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Python Programming FAQ:

My kid has taken this before, which class do I choose?
Returning students can sign up for any class. This term I will be introducing video versions of the book chapters that the kids have used before. This will allow the students to move at their own pace but have me in the 'room' to get help from. I've also been working with students using the Zoom breakout rooms so they can pair up with a partner within the class but still have me available for questions.

What if my kid is younger than 9?
Sign them up next year. I am always willing to consider students on a case-by-case basis but don't want students to have a poor first experience simply because of their age. I have settled on 9-years old as my starting age for the program because of the typing and reading required.

Can they make their own graphics and sounds?
Yes. The game is completely customizable including the tiles, the players, the background, and the sounds. Because of the transition online students will be building their games on their computers and so they are welcome (and encouraged) to make it their own. That said, I encourage them to work on their code during the class and their graphics and sounds when their code is done. This allows them to continue to progress while still making the game their own.

Can they do this on their iPad?
No. Unfortunately, the tools we use are only available on Windows and Mac computers.



 

Secret Ciphers (ECS)

As part of our in-class Elementary Computer Science courses, Hacking Secret Ciphers introduces students to the problem of sending a secure (secret) message and then challenges them to write a computer program to encrypt and decrypt these messages. Students start by learning to conduct the process by hand, then proceed to using mathematics and then learn the process to convert their manual steps into a computer program using Python. By the end of the week they will have a fully functional Python program that is capable of encrypting and decrypting secret messages. Once they have their own programs they will be challenged to try and crack a series of secret messages by using and modifying their existing program. We wrap up the class with a discussion of alternative algorithms to try and follow-on tasks they can do if they wish to continue learning computer science and programming.

Ages 9+

During the course students will learn how to:

  • Learn a substitution cipher and use a cipher wheel.
  • Use modular-arithmetic in place of a cipher wheel.
  • Convert their steps into a computer program using Python.
  • Test and debug their Python program.
  • Brute-force crack their ciphers using Python.

Computer Requirements:

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Signals & Codes (ECS)

Signals & Codes introduces students to the technologies that underpin the Internet by taking them back in time to the 1830s and presenting them with the challenge of transmitting messages over telegraph lines. Students start by manually encoding and transmitting messages to each other and then proceed to using mathematics and probability theory to craft shorter and faster messages. Led by the instructor students will write computer programs using the Python programming language capable of creating, sending and decoding messages.

Ages 9+

During the course students will learn about:

  • Information Theory
  • Binary Code
  • Morse Code
  • Hamming Codes
  • Frequency Analysis

Computer Requirements:

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Thunkable

Thunkable is a web-based block programming environment for building mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. I have used Thunkable with adults and kids to build apps and games and this term we will focus on building a mobile game.

Ages 9+

Computer Requirements:

  • Windows, Mac, or Linux computer
  • Web Browser
  • Mobile Device (phone or table) (optional and only for testing)
  • Google or Thunkable account
  • Zoom

Register Now >


Thunkable FAQ:

Is this the same as Scratch?
It's similar, but not the same. Although Thunkable and Scratch are both block-based programming environments Scratch is focused on sprites and a stage whereas Thunkable is focused on building more general apps for mobile devices. For students who have experience with Scratch, the blocks will be similar, but not the same.

Is this the same as the SFU CoLab program?
No. This will be similar to the SFU CoLab program that I taught in Fall 2020 but will be a different game. So, if you were part of the group who took the SFU class with me, this will be a new and different game.

What if my kid is younger than 9?
Sign them up next year. I am always willing to consider students on a case-by-case basis but don't want students to have a poor first experience simply because of their age. I have settled on 9-years old as my starting age for the program because of the typing and reading required.

Can they make their own graphics and sounds?
Yes. The game is completely customizable including the graphics and sounds. Because of the transition online students will be building their games on their computers and so they are welcome (and encouraged) to make it their own. That said, I encourage them to work on their code during the class and their graphics and sounds when their code is done. This allows them to continue to progress while still making the game their own.

Can they do this on their iPad/tablet?
Yes, however note that I will be teaching using a Windows (or Mac) computer and we will be importing graphics from their computer (that I will supply).

What is the difference between Thunkable 3:30 and Thunkable 4:30?
They are the same class, just one will be taught at 3:30 and one at 4:30.