Project Spark Update.

It just looked too good to resist so I kept messing with it.  I had a new i7 tower on the way and it came in yesterday.  Once it was set up the first thing I did was try to install PS.  It works!  It went right through the firewall.  Apparently the ports that supposedly needed to be open do not need to be open or are already open.

After 15 minutes of tinkering with PS on my new computer I have come to the decision this is not something I would use with a regular classroom.  There are simply too many distractions in it.  It does have a “build your own” mode but it is also full of interesting games.  There is not a kid alive, young or old, who is going to be able to resist playing the adventures when they should be programming.  If my home laptop was an i7 I would just disappear from life for a few weeks with this.  Very dangerous.

All right.  Another 15 minutes have convinced me.  DO NOT BRING THIS INTO THE SCHOOL.  I will have to delete it off my computer or I will get nothing done.  There is some kind of addiction involved.  I now have a raging desire to go buy an i7 laptop for home so I can lose contact with reality.  It is not the game playing aspect that interests me; it is the game building that looks totally consuming.  I had one of my students load it on his i7 laptop.  Thirty minutes later he had a world built, and a simple game going.  (Yes, he is very smart but still…)

PS is Kodu on major steroids.  Kodu can be fun.  I think PS could be stupid fun.  I do not have time for stupid fun; I would never get anything done.  I will continue to tinker with PS, but carefully.  The kids not having i7s (or i5s for that matter) does eliminate it from possible teaching tools but for those kids with their own i7s it could be a fun distraction.  More problem solving.

While writing this post I have been communication with the Project Spark test lead from Microsoft.  It looks like my install problem lies with the fact I was trying to install it on a Windows 10 machine.  PS apparently is not compatible with Win10 yet.  I would have sworn I read it was 8, 8.1, and 10 compatible.  Must be old age and dead brain cells.  He said they test this on a Surface Pro with an i5 so I am going to install 8.1 on that i5 laptop and see what happens.

I know things like this are not intended as teaching tool but fun ways to get kids involved with programming and problem solving always requires investigation.  The direction of teaching programming is very unpredictable so everything needs to be investigated.  What can be done for free is absolutely amazing now-a-days.


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