Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tribute to MLK

I was asked to put together an presentation for MLK Day in January and thought it might be a great chance to use the new iMovie 08. But, I was given little time to complete the project, since the administration wanted to review the product before the December Break. I tried using iMovie 08, I really did, but the new UI just frustrated me. I spent about twenty minutes trying to figure out how to import still images as slides and assemble them with pans and transisitons, then bailed and went back to the old iMovie HD.

Here's a beta "rough cut". It's part of the "mountaintop speech" that MLK gave the day before he was killed in 1968. In it, he talks about an incident from 1958, in which a "deranged woman" stabs him during a Harlem book signing and nearly kills him. In the hospital, he is recuperating and reading letters from well wishers:

Let me know what you think!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

PC Autopsy the Movie

The three Autopsy Teams (Proton, Neutron, Electrons) disassembled their computers, calatoged the parts, and the re-assembled the computers, hoping that the machines would survive the process and reboot:

Music by Fatboy Slim.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Computer Autopsy Day 1

So the kids in class have started to take apart their "cadaver PCs". It was a good day -- very noisy and active, but lots of good questions. They are documenting the dis-assembly with digital cameras and in their blogs; they are also identifying each part in a PC Parts Catalog database. All their data is being uploaded to a class space in Moodle.

I've really enjoyed using Moodle. It's as linear and structured as any courseware I've used, which can make it difficult to set-up and teach to the kids. But there are enough options that you can make the kinds of spaces and tools that you need; and it's free. The Forums and blogs do not seem to handle EMBED tags quite right, which is really frustrating a couple of the kids who want to play with Flash and QuickTime. I guess if you're a 12-year old kid who wants to learn how to embed media objects in HTML, you really don't have a big problem -- if you know what I mean.

Anway I'll see if I can Google-up a solution to that problem.

[ click images for larger view ]

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bob the Egg - Lives!

Today, after the Convocation at Bentley's Lafayette Campus, the Middle School did a little engineering exercise of sorts. Each Advisory got an egg. The egg was to be dropped and we needed to protect it with a given "kit of parts". I made a little movie of the event:

[ click to view the slide show ]

The Lab in Action

Here is an "action shot" from the new Computer Lab on August 31st:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Getting the New Lab Ready

Wow. It's been a busy summer, but I got a lot done. First, I moved to California. Then I set about making a new Computer Lab and designing a new Computer Studio course which I hope will start to test some of the ideas I've been blogging.

The couse will move kids from a hardware overview (autopsy), to some basic media work, some HTML, and some blogging of their own. Once they have a handle on how to report on their work, we'll start on a few projects. As I've said, this course will approach computers with an artist's curiousity: what are they? how do they work? what can I make with them?

First we'll try podcasting and video work -- really an extension of the media work that they started with, but adding some XML and RSS to the mix. Then I want them to try making a non-linear experience within a web browser, maybe like a museum of science interactive that explains something. They'll incorporate audio and video media, as well as other programming skills.

Next I want them to try their hand with Google Earth, wikis, and media. We'll see if they might also be able to do something with Google SketchUp.

Then we'll dig into some "starter" IDE's like Scratch. And finish with Lego Mindstorms.

Also, all the tools I'm using are free, and almost all are cross-platform -- so the kids can download and use them at home:
- Audacity
- Firefox
- Google Earth
- Google SketchUp
- LEGO Digital Designer
- Scratch
- TextWrangler

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rivers Campus in Full 3D

A couple of Rivers Seniors have built Rivers in 3D. Try as I might, I could not get my copy of Google SketchUp to render a proper .kmz file for Google Earth, but this is a big, detailed model:

They added all kinds of landscaping details (signs, benches, garbage cans, etc) and could not add colors and textures without slowing the animations to a crawl. But this was a tremendously fun thing to watch happen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Google SketchUp Model Update

I finally did the promised update. This was done with the new version of SketchUp, and I lost the edge lines in the model -- for the life of me I could not figure out how to get them back. Maybe cause I added all these colors and textures to the model (?). Note that the base of the flagpole has a nice aqua patina (you gotta look really close!).

The revised SketchUp .kmz file for the Rivers Site is here.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

PlayStation Portable Is History

Well, of course, I knew this was coming. I'm rather surprised it hasn't happened earlier. A school in Birmingham, UK, is rolling out a pilot project with PSPs -- they are going to use them to teach history:

School that will teach history on a PlayStation

"Pupils are being handed gaming consoles to help with their studies.

Teachers believe the Sony PlayStations will motivate youngsters studying French, history and geography.

The hand-held devices can carry educational video and audio clips as well as notes and pictures."

It sounds like the PSP is going to be used as a media device and a browser. Obviously they can author and hear podcasts, Flash video clips, and other Web 2.0 consumables. Something I'll try to watch closely.

Other links:
Monsters and Critics
BBC News
Gamer Squad
Next Generation

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Rivers Updated in Google Earth

This had to have happened in just the last couple of weeks -- Google has updated the satellite maps for the The Rivers School campus, and it now includes the Athletics Center:

We're pretty sure this is a Saturday in Spring 2005 since the baseball field is not yet been moved beind behind Maintenance. It looks like the site has shifted a bit under my model (see the roof edges sticking out from under the walls?), so I'll have to try to snap-shot and export the model again, see if I can get it to line up better.

It's interesting that there was about two years from the time of the satellite photo to its incorporation into Google Earth.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Half Life Falling Water

A Half Life player named Kasperg (an architectural student from Spain) has bult a hi-res model of Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water, linked here:

Digital Urban

This absolutely shows how 3D models can be brought into these FPS gaming engines (sans gun barrel) to render an accurate, immersive experience. The model (with sound effects!) is amazing, and there is a .wmv file you can download.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Build Your Campus in 3D

Google has launched a competition called:

"Build Your Campus in 3D"

And they've released Google SketchUp 6. It lloks like you can now use photos as texture maps -- cool!

iRobot Create

From the folks that brought you the Roomba vaccum, comes "iRobot Create":

I been follwing the Roomba cause on a bunch of the maker and hacker sites, this has been the target of some investigation -- and iRobot thought enough to add a programming port to the Rooba at some point. Now they've removed the vacuum part and just given the maker-hacker community "base robot" that folks can play with. Great idea. Here are some projects:

iRobot Create Projects

Read more at Make Magazine and this review at ROBOT.