Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Game Design Unit Schedule and Lesson Plan

Sam didn't have to go to work during the week between Christmas and New Year's, and he'd been wanting to teach one of our units, so we happily took this opportunity! He decided to teach a unit on Game Design. He has been designing games for many years now, as he got his first job in the game industry at age 16! He works at Disney doing concept art now, but he stays quite involved with game design and he loves it. So, this was a perfect chance for him to share some of his knowledge with the rest of us. 

Sam had his own lesson plan for this unit, but I took notes as he talked and tried to fill in most of the things he talked about on my usual spreadsheet.
Ky pretends to be a jumping bean, moving from pillow to pillow
I thought it was really interesting how many aspects of designing games can be applied to designing . . . anything! The concepts of flexibility, usability, aesthetics, target audience, reinforcement, etc. seem like they will be really useful in a whole bunch of areas! And Sam is just a good teacher, so he could probably talk about practically anything and it would be interesting. :)

Sam had the boys each design a game for their Final Project, which they worked on throughout the week. They spent a LOT of time testing and re-working and refining the concepts, and Sam helped them think through potential problems and come up with better redesigns as they went. It was really cool to see what they came up with and how they improved their ideas. And the finished games actually turned out really fun. I think we will keep playing them for many years!
Some of Sam's teaching charts

Abe working on his game---before and after being shorn :)

First draft of Abe's instructions

Seb's prototype

Malachi's instructions

Game testing with Daddy (Seb was sick this day---you can see him sitting wanly on the heater vent in the background) :(

For their final games, the boys really worked hard to make nice, professional-looking (well, relatively speaking :)) products. Sam let them do all kinds of things that I'm usually too lazy to allow---things like painting their boards with craft paint and sculpting game pieces and dice out of Sculpey. They spent hours and hours getting everything just right.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Ice Castle Field Trip

I had heard someone talking about this ice castle in Midway, so while Sam was home between Christmas and New Year's, we took a field trip up there to see it. It went right along with our earlier discussion of ice storms, after all! :)

We really, really loved it. I think we went at the perfect time of day (we arrived just before 4 pm) because it wasn't very crowded, the sun was out long enough to reflect off the ice in really beautiful ways, and the light was constantly changing. The ice formations reminded me so much of Carlsbad Caverns---doesn't the picture above look just like this?
First of all, a cute baby. We must establish that, first of all.
Now, the eerie, otherworldly, lit-from-within ice. So delicate! So pale! (This does not actually have lights under it. Although at night, some of it does.)
It's pretty amazing to see the size of this thing. You can read about how they made it on their website. It evolves throughout the winter as temperatures change.
I loved these knobby bits, with a light dust of snow on top. 
Here they are closer-up.
Did you remember a cute baby?
I love the different colors the ice changes as the sun passes through it!
Blue shadows underneath. These look like a bunch of canopy beds with curtains hanging down. Or mushrooms.
Looking up at some jagged icicles. This is so abstract, I love it. You could be looking any direction. Or at one ice crystal, microscopic.
A Junie ice-cube.
More knobs. Vertical this time.
A Ky ice-cube!
More scary jagged-ness
Love these tiny, scale-like shapes
Peeking out of an ice canyon
Sunset catches the edges of the ice
Layers of blue
Long, snaky ice-wall

We stopped by our old friend the Heber Valley Creamery afterwards, and when we were done, it was dark, so I had Sam take me back and drop me off so I could take another run through the castle and see it in the night time. They have lights beneath the ice in several places, making it glow different colors, and it looks really cool. I stand by my assertion that seeing it in the daylight is even more spectacular, though. Still, these pictures are striking:
We loved this! Go see it yourself! (On a Monday afternoon, when it's cheaper and less crowded.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

Borax Crystal Snowflakes

My friend pinned this Snowflake crystal-growing project and I thought it looked fun, so I slotted it into our day about Avalanches and Ice Storms. (If you think that's a stretch, wait till you see me fit the Ice Castle in as a field trip! :)) We have grown a lot of crystals but we've never tried borax crystals before, and they are great! Fast-growing and beautiful. And I do love a project that's well-explained! We made a bunch of these for our own Christmas tree, and to give away as gifts to the boys' choir director, Primary teachers, etc. They were really fun to make!

Oh---also---we found you can reuse the borax solution to make more snowflakes. We used ours three times before it seemed like it wasn't working as well anymore. You just heat up the jar in the microwave until the water is hot enough to dissolve the crystals stuck to the bottom of the jar (3-5 min). Stir, and when the solution is clear again, put a new snowflake in and begin again. You can refresh it with a bit more water and another tablespoon of borax, if desired.
We used brown pipe-cleaner for our first batch, and they were pretty, but I think we liked the white pipe-cleaner better

And here they are on the tree! So pretty.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...