Saturday, 21 March 2015

Hacking into Minecraft on the Raspberry Pi. Using real fruit!

Many people buy a Raspberry Pi and it sits on a shelf for a while before they look into what to do with it. This is changing rapidly with the introduction of Computing on the National Curriculum and the Governments proposal to give a Raspberry Pi to every Year 7 in September 2015:

One of the most engaging experiments I've personally seen in action (and tried and tested on our recent open day at Scarborough College) is using a capacitive touch sensor to run programs on the Raspberry Pi. When coupled with Minecraft, this is the result:

The idea came from a post I saw by "Arghbox" on his blog which is well worth looking at:

He used an Adafruit capacitive touch sensor to control certain functions in Minecraft through the Raspberry Pi. I thought this was a really nice idea to engage students in some programming and electronics using a game they could all relate with, so I did my own. Adapting some of Martin O'Hanlon's ideas I made my own python programme to make it a bit more visual for our open day.

This is my version of the code: I used a real flower to place a flower in Minecraft and used the properties of graphite as a conductor to write a word which, when touched, triggered the sensor. I also used a piece of code which took a picture using the Raspberry Pi Camera when you touched the Orange. Another feature which I forgot to put on the video was that one sensor was placed in a bowl of water, so when you dipped a finger in it, an area on Minecraft was cleared out.

Here's the code, shared on Google drive:

You may get a warning saying it is not safe to download as it is an executable python script, but please be assured that it is OK.

Without repeating here what someone else has put a lot of work into, please follow the instructions here by Craig Richardson on how to wire up you Raspberry Pi and Capacitive touch sensor. I followed them to the letter and as you can see from the video above. It worked really well.

I did something else with the pictures I took on the open day using the touch capacitor...coming in my next post :)

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Using ICT to help with creative writing - Epic Citadel

I was talking to an English teacher the other week and she commented that some pupils find it difficult to imagine scenarios or recall memories which may inspire them to write creatively. One aspect of the GCSE English Language syllabus requires pupils to:
“Write to communicate clearly, effectively and imaginatively, using and adapting forms and selecting vocabulary appropriate to task and purpose in ways that engage the reader”
(AQA English Language GCSE 4b AO3)

I began to wonder if ICT could help us.

Epic Citadel

At a recent teachmeet I was shown the app Epic Citadel, available for free on Android and Apple devices.
Epic Citadel is a beautifully rendered Medieval style scene which the user is able to walk around freely. The app is a demo of the capabilities of the Unreal 3 engine, but an alternative use could be to use the rich colours, textures and features of this world to inspire students to think and write creatively.

As the pupils walk through the area, they can describe what they see, explain textures and items. The more able pupils might even imagine scenarios or events based around their exploration, and turn it into a short story. They can individually walk round the citadel using their own devices in the class or at home. It will be interesting to see how varied the descriptions are as they will all experience the same virtual landscape, but in their own individual ways. I’m going to suggest it to our English Department as an idea and see how we get on with it.

iPad and Android Links:

Get it on Google Play

Edit: After I posted this, I realised the Mr.P had done even more work previously on Epic Citadel. For even more ideas, check his blog out: