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  Checkout the latest Playground video, 'Playing with Rules'. Note this is a 29MB non-streaming video file. You will need Quicktime.

Stop press!

Playground International Seminar: Unlocking kids' creativity for learning

The Playground Project had a big presence at the i3 Spring days conference in Porto, Portugal. We hosted a workshop entitled 'Unlocking kids creativity for learning: Learning issues of moving from GUI (Graphics User Interface) to PUI (Perceptual User Interface)'. As well as the Playground team, this workshop featured:
Allen Cypher -- co-inventor of Stagecast creator
Yasmin Kafai (UCLA) -- author of Minds in Play
Uri Wilensky (Northwestern U. Chicago) -- director of the Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling.

In addition to this workshop, we held a Playground Project seminar attached to the Spring days meeting which was attended by over 50 portuguese teachers and trainers. As well as papers and presentations from our guest speakers and the playground team, there was a panel discussion with questions from the floor. The end of the day saw practical demonstrations being given of software developed by the Playground team and others."

At the beginning of April, we held our 3rd international games workshop involving children from England and Sweden. The children all made their games from a common set of programming resources and shared, played and evaluated each other's games using the integrated messaging system in ToonTalk, (long distance birds) and video conferencing. You can see there games on the gameplace. The programming resources and an example game are also on the gameplace.

Children in our London school are also continuing work on their games in their weekly computer club sessions. Their games are based on a multi-scene adventure game built by the project team. The children are adding new scenes that they've designed themselves and are programming functionality to the objects and characters within those scenes using tools available in the ToonTalk playground.

London seminar: 29 March 2001
Despite the tube strike we had a good turn out for our seminar, which followed on from the success of our event on 11 July last year. We demonstrated and discussed the ToonTalk Playground at

  •  the platform level: training a robot
  •  the superstructural level: modularity, transferability, multiple representations
  •  building a game
  •  playing with rules: transforming the game 
We will show the first playground adventure game:
  •  design features and principles
  •  collaboration and modification: London and Sweden
Then we looked at long distance communication of games and game elements:
  •  demonstration of how elements are sent across sites/countries
  •  video of children sharing their adventure games between London and Sweden
  •  rebuilding games 
Finally there was a discussion of childrenís understandings of the implications of the rules of their games.

ACM1 Conference: Beyond Cyberspace, San Jose CA, 10-14 March 2001
Ken Kahn's experience
'I just returned from ACM1 where I exhibited the ToonTalk Playground for 4 full days. And it was a popular exhibit - I would say about 75% of the time there was at least 1 person visiting and at times as many as 10. The visitors ranged from kids (of all ages) including some who came as part of a school field trip, teachers, parents, and computer scientists. I even had one teacher who saw the exhibit on Saturday who assigned his class (over 30 12 or 13 year olds) to come in small groups on Monday and build a game and write about it - that was great but hectic since there were so many. Some really got into it and did neat things and asked good questions. I had 3 computers and sometimes there were groups on each machine exploring away. I would guess I had about 100 serious visitors a day (averaging about a 10 minute visit).'

The GamePlace is up and running. This is where all our wonderful games are stored. You can download the games and run them in ToonTalk or you can play the browser based Java versions. Check out  the Playground Bulletin Board too.

ToonTalk - um jogo para criar jogos de computador

Lançamento oficial deste revolucionário CD ROM na
Didáctica 2000 - Exponor - Porto

O que é o ToonTalk?
Um jogo para criar Jogos de Computador.
Um ambiente animado que permite às crianças aprender a construir e executar programas de computador.
Em ToonTalk, os programas não são construídos através de uma sequência de comandos escritos, nem através de simples manipulações gráficas; são construídos interagindo num mundo animado. Objectos familiares como pássaros, robots, camiões, bombas, convertem-se nas ferramentas de programação.
No mundo animado do ToonTalk, as crianças, enquanto aprendem a programar, enfrentam desafios, expressam a sua criatividade, aprendem como resolver problemas e divertem-se!
Para saber mais, visite:
Para encomendar, visite:

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Pessoal 91 7600730


Pathways is now ready! Pathways provides a graphical interface that allows young children to build rules without text. So for example, suppose you want to express the rule: 

"if I touch the blue monster, say ouch!"

You find a "stone" that illustrates the condition "if I touch" and drop it into a pathway. If it is the little girl that is going to say "ouch" you drop it into one of her pathways. Pathways look like scrolls and unfold as the rule gets longer. 

Then you find a "stone" to represent "say" and drop that into the same pathway. A few more clicks to represent the inputs i.e. the blue monster and "ouch!" completes the job. Now whenever the little girl touches the blue monster she says "ouch!". 

It really is simple. Pathways is not a full programming language but does offer lots of power. Soon we'll be putting some simple games written in Pathways to give you a really good idea of what is possible. Remember that these games will be designed for you to change, and make more interesting!

News from London:

The latest visitor to the London playground is Jean-Luc Gurtner from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He is spending his sabbatical summer term with us. Efi Paparistodemou, a PhD student at the Institute, is also working with us a few hours a week as a graduate assistant.

We are currently working on our specifications for multi-user capacity in ToonTalk and Imagine.  This is not just about multi-user game play, but about means of fostering collaborative game construction.  Multi-usability also includes the facility to have a central 'Market Place' of playground games and elements that users around the world can access.

News from Portugal:

Manuela Andrade who is doing most of the work with childrens using ToonTalk, is beginning her research for a masters degree on Multimedia Educational Communication. She is envisaging doing the research on the iconic language we are developing for the Playground Project.

Read a summary of last year's events.