Process for creating Greatest Places games

How students created their games
Students were introduced to the Greatest Places (Amazon, Greenland, Iguazu Falls, Madagascar, Namib, Okavango, and Tibet) by way of a standard wall map and asked to offer their knowledge of each place. Next, students were given time to browse the Greatest Places Online, to familiarize themselves with the media available to them. The students were given a quick overview of MicroWorlds and also shown student examples of MicroWorlds projects. Away from computers, they created a storyboard for design and interactivity, and finally went back to the computer to create their games, where they collected and imported media from the Greatest Places Online web site.

The MicroWorlds program
MicroWorlds is a low-cost multimedia authoring program designed for kids that uses the LOGO programming language as its base. The application environment consists of a background or stage area upon which virtual "turtles" or sprites interact with each other, mouse clicks, background colors and can be controlled by variables, buttons and custom LOGO commands. Sound files, music files, and video can also be imported and integrated.

Screenshot of MicroWorlds

LOGO programming
The syntax of MicroWorlds LOGO is a variation of straight LOGO but quite similar. One starts with a definition of a procedure, defines the parameters for that procedure, then declares an end to the procedure.

to boogie_down
repeat 50 [fd 10 rt 90]

(This procedure tells the turtle, named "", to repeat 50 times the act of going forward 10 pixels and turning right 90 degrees.)

Students were encouraged to create their own procedures and to collaborate with classmates on programming, rather than having the instructor complete the problem solving for them.

The classroom environment
The class size was seven to eight students with eight Windows95 PCs; there was one instructor leading the class and one classroom assistant.

Day to day
Classes ran Monday to Friday at 3 hours per day, either 9 to 12 or 1 to 4.

Back to the games!