A Binary Dance Party

Like many schools, we participated in Computer Science Education Week. Unlike many schools, my students spent longer than an hour on these activities. We started during #CSEdWeek but students continued to refine what they started during that week and are currently working on documenting what they created.

Our Middle School students created dance parties using Code.org’s Dance Party. Two of the students in 7th grade decided to challenge themselves to see if they could create something completely different with the Dance Party platform. One student wanted to create a binary encoder and the other wanted to create a calculator. As the projects progressed, the student trying to create the calculator decided to switch and create a binary decoder instead.

As the students have told me, these are “proof of concept” only – they wanted to show that it was possible to do it. The encoder works with letters A-F (though a few other letters do work or do some things) and encodes to upper-case letters even if you type lower-case letters. The decoder works with the binary for most upper-case letters, though there may be a few letters which don’t decode correctly.

Binary Encoder
Binary Decoder
To use the encoder, type in 4 letters. You may use a space if you wish to type less than 4 letters. I have been told that only the letters A-F work correctly and they will always encode to the binary for the upper-case letter. Once you have entered the letters and/or spaces, you will see colors flash on the screen:

  • Dark Grey or Black = 0 (zero)
  • Light Grey or White = 1 (one)
  • Gold = end of byte marker
  • Red = End of all letters
To use the decoder, type in one byte of information in binary and then press Enter. For example, type 01000011 and press Enter to see the letter C displayed. You must reset and run again in order to enter each byte. The decoder will work for most upper-case letters.

Try these out and see what you think!

And How Was Your Day?

Today was the start of Computer Science Education Week and I was excited to get it started and then ….

Got this email … High Hour of Code traffic – progress not being saved
Uh oh, I was concerned that my plans for 6th grade would have a problem especially when you add the fact that we have slow Internet access and computers without much memory. I was also afraid that students might not be able to share the work they created when they completed the final level – luckily, they can. Whew!! Anyway, I reworked plans for 6th grade quickly and plan to have them try Code.org’s Dance Party later this week.

What can possibly go wrong with an Unplugged Activity?
My 3rd-5th graders are starting their #CSEdWeek activities with Code.org’s Dance Party Unplugged. So, I got to school and opened the Spotify link for the Dance Party playlist and uh oh, it wouldn’t open on my computer at school. I couldn’t track down what exactly was missing and clicking on the link provided did nothing so … plan B. I pulled out my Chromebook, found some speakers, which was more difficult than you might think since they needed USB for power and the Chromebook has USB-C, and used the Chromebook to play the music. After the set up issues the Unplugged Dance Party was enjoyed by all.

This Plugin is Not Supported
5th grade finished in time to start on the coding portion of their #CSEdWeek activity. This should have been a no brainer because the plan was to code a dance party in Scratch. We have used Scratch many times in the past. We have used other Flash based sites often. For some reason today, going to a website that used Flash just told us that the plugin was not supported. So, I decided we should try it on Firefox instead of Chromium since we had used it on Firefox all last year. Well, that just kept crashing the Firefox browser. Uh oh! So, plan B time again. Luckily, the Scratch 3.0 beta seems to run just fine on Chromium so 5th grade started their programming project there. I am a bit concerned with my 3rd graders having to download to save and upload to open on this but it will be learning opportunity for them! Guess that means I need to redo all of my video tutorials for this on Scratch 3.0 and add two for “saving” and “opening”, as well.

I’m hopeful that tomorrow will be a better day!