Daily Archives: November 25, 2012

Feederwatch: A course in art focusing on birds

Here is the website, here is the Facebook page, and here is the writeup:

Feeder Sketch is an 8 week free one line casual course. You can come and go as you please. No requirements, and any level of participation is welcome (from just seeing what it is, to drawing 2 times a week for and hour).

Join us if you are just learning to draw or are an illustration superstar. A novice birder – or someone who can identify a bird by just a few little chirps. Everyone is welcome!

If you just want a weekly reminder about the group, you can hit maybe here, and stay updated.

Who are “we”?
We are staff and educators from the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Museum of Life and Science in North Carolina. Some of us draw for fun, while others have no art background whatsoever. None of us are bird experts. We will be “learning to look, and looking to learn” together.

What is it exactly?
This free, eight-week online program accommodates a range of birders and sketchers, from novice to expert, focusing especially on the novice sketcher. We’ll host observational and drawing activities each week online on the FeederWatch Forum, share our work with each other, and enjoy conversations about learning how to draw (again) as an adult and also learning to draw birds in particular.

The official FeederWatch season runs from November 10, 2012 through April 5, 2013. We will facilitate the accompanying FeederSketch program from November 26, 2012 through January 20, 2013. We encourage you to participate in both—sign up to count birds and submit your data to the Project FeederWatch program for the whole season, as well as sketch along with us for the eight-week FeederSketch companion program.

Questions or need help registering?
Email us at feedersketch@smm.org.

Scratch: A kids programming environment that is easy and works!

Super Scratch Programming Adventure!: Learn to Program By Making Cool Games is a book designed for the youngest kids who can read comics and basic text who want to learn to program. The prgramming environment, Scratch, will be familiar to those who have experimented with Logo and Squeak. Especially Squeak. Scratch is a very easily installed environment. You just download it and run it, more or less (instructions provided). When installed, it looks like this:

The upper left box allows you to chose categories of property and methods sets, such as motion, looks, sensing, etc. The list-like thingie below this are those sets of properties and methods. You pick a sprite (in this case, the orange cat) and then you stick together items from these lists to get behavior and stuff. The white screen with the cat on it is where the drama is all played out. Here is the editing environment for the sprites:

In this example, I’v set up the orange cat to proceed to the center of the stage, then make a series of turns and moves, with various waiting times between them. I made the cat dance. that was with zero training and not having looked at the book yet.

Once you look at the book you can do much much more! Scratch comes with numerous examples, some of which are a little silly or poorly executed, but all of which illustrate important programing techniques. The version of Pong that comes in the example set is as good as any a beginning programmer might create, and involves only this code:

If you have a kid who plays around with a computer and can read even a little, GET THIS. You’ll have fun, and when you are done playing with it, you can let your kid use it to learn how to program.