The Los Altos School District in Los Altos, San Francisco Bay Area, California offers all 6th graders a weekly program called C-STEM. cSTEM teaches Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects through the 3 C’s – Creativity, Collaboration and Computer Science.
Students learn the critical digital age skill of computational thinking through computer programming. They also learn other computer science concepts like hardware (drawing a computer motherboard in 3D), binary numbers etc.
The kids love Scratch. The most difficult part of the class, is getting them to leave the computer lab when the class is over!
Building Math Games using Scratch is a good example of project based learning - it is long term, collaborative, interdisciplinary, and has a real world application. Students must manage their own time to meet the deadlines provided. They are excited to know that their game will be on the Scratch site and will be played by their friends from all schools in the district and all over the world. They are so busy testing math games by solving math problems, they do not know they are actually learning math!
The math games were made using 'pair programming' where students worked in pairs (the driver and navigator model) and the project took 5-8 classes. Student samples show amazing creativity, both in character and background design and in the story/goal/game design.
The Math games require players to solve math problems that are randomly created. Solving problems correctly allows the user to advance to the goals - which varied from getting oxygen in an underwater world, shopping online to escaping from sharks. Students learn advanced programming skills like variables, conditionals, user inputs, random numbers, and messaging.
The level of math questions can be changed to be more complex. In many cases the students have kept them simple for testing purposes.
Link to the lesson plan including class demo example and over 200+ student samples are on my own web site at www.computersforcreativity.com/resources/scratchmathgames
I hope you are able to use this in your classroom. Do send me your feedback and any questions on implementing. I taught this Scratch lesson in 17 sixth grade classes this year, so this lesson has been well tested! It works.