interactive ict tools linking mathematics science and robotics getting the most from game maker
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INTERACTIVE ICT TOOLS LINKING MATHEMATICS, SCIENCE AND ROBOTICS – GETTING THE MOST FROM GAME MAKER . Michael Fenton Scientist Diploma/Degree level ICT tutor / researcher High School Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Computing, Electronics Creator/author of commercial interactive

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interactive ict tools linking mathematics science and robotics getting the most from game maker


Michael Fenton


Diploma/Degree level ICT tutor / researcher

High School Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Computing, Electronics

Creator/author of commercial interactive

eLearning resources

programme outline
Programme Outline
  • Introduction
  • eLearning…why/what…
  • The problem
  • Game Maker solution?
  • Examples; linking eLearning, ICT & maths
  • Your first program!
  • eLearning tips
  • Bonus – free stuff & sneak peek at RIGEL
a look at the tip of the iceberg
A look at the tip of the iceberg
  • Michael is a researcher, programmer, author, public speaker and educator. As an Academic Leader at WITT he assisted schools with the use of ICT. He is an experienced Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics teacher with first-hand knowledge and advice regarding the issues surrounding gifted students.
  • His website includes original practical experiments & resources for science, mathematics, computing, and robotics as well as crime scene investigation, constructing a Dalek and TARDIS, and reviews of NCEA assessment tasks.

Nexus Research Group1997-2004. Scientists: Michael & Christine Fenton

New Zealand\'s only school based research organisation

Dedicated to providing students of all ages and abilities with enough detailed "how-to" secrets of research to allow ambitious amateurs to make original discoveries.

The team of students engaged with a number of communities;

science fair, conferences, Royal Society, fashion, inter-school, international…


“No matter what subject is being taught, attempt to create practical, hands-on, real-world, problem solving tasks for students…”

Careers Expo 2005

You should try finding a car park for these…

a room with a view
A room with a view

Our classrooms reflect our view of what should be taking place for learning to occur…

Does a curriculum focused system ready students for working in the community…or is it a system of convenience?

why e learning
Why e-learning?

Driving forces for e-learning initiatives

  • Pedagogical benefits
  • Improved administration
  • Political aspects

Impact on schools

  • teaching, research and administration
  • roles and functions (eg, eLearning resource creator in each school/cluster?)
  • support and administration processes (eg, more PD time?)
what is elearning
What is eLearning?

“e-learning covers a wide set of applications and processes;

Web-based and computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and

digital collaboration.

It includes the delivery of content via Internet, intranet/extranet

audio- and videotape, satellite broadcast, interactive TV,

and CD-ROM.”

e-learning is interactive, or rather, provides instructional interactivity.

While you can learn from many things in this world, it’s the


that differentiates learning from mere e-publishing.


Learning by



Social learning





In the company

of others






Communities of practice

the holy grail of elearning
The holy grail of eLearning

Smart, adaptable,


New forms

of learning


anywhere anytime



A global connected


Rich multimedia


ICT enables eLearning solutions…notice the community focus!


ICT in schools

  • The investment in ICT hardware in schools by the
  • government has not been matched with funds
  • for software resources or funds for ICT support
  • and training.
  • ‘Pick it up as you go’ philosophy; inadequate funding to train teachers
  • To much/not enough “good” software for your students/topic
  • Students can’t use software at home (licensing/copyright)
  • Curriculum focus rather than Community focus

Game Maker

  • Build your own tools
  • Build your own support community
  • model, explore, analyse and refine

ideas and reasoning.

  • Students can use tools at home

More than just games…mathematics, science, robotics…

the amazing human mind
The Amazing Human Mind

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulacity uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnirg to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn\'t mttaer inwaht oredr the Itteers in a wrod are; the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht thefrist and Isat Itteer be in the rghit pclae.

The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitllraed it wouthit a porbelm.

Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef but the wrod as a wlohe.

Amzanig, huh?

And I awlyas toguhht slpeling was ipmorantt!

GM can convert text to this format for a fun look at language, codes and ciphers.


Game Maker – eLearning and ICT

  • Curriculum focus
  • Community focus
  • Primary, Secondary, Tertiary
  • SMARTboard/IWB tools

How does it help learning?


curriculum vs community(content vs creativity )

  • Constructivism/ Social Learning:
  • Design contests
  • Sharing expertise
  • Cross-curriculum simulators / games
  • Graphic design
  • Art
  • Music editing/composing
  • Ideas outside the square
  • Entrepreneurship
  • FUN!
  • Curriculum content:
  • Cartesian coordinates
  • negative number
  • position, speed, acceleration
  • algebraic variables
  • relative & absolute value
  • estimation
  • chance
  • a programming language similar to Visual Basic
  • metacognitive skills
  • structured thinking
  • logical thinking inc. Boolean operations
  • planning and top-down design
  • team planning and development
  • ability to represent operations as systems of sequence/selection/iteration.
  • re-usability of code and parameterisation
  • representational structures and metalanguages
  • program proving
  • simple physics of gravity, collisions, kinematics
  • outcome matrices
  • file handling
  • efficient data structures and code and possibly network issues, security, database design, graphics, etc
  • New unidentified skills for a digital age?

“You never run out of time to meet deadlines when you have a TARDIS”

a few of mikes gm tools
A few of Mikes GM tools…
  • 3D interactive astronomy game (Interactive TARDIS)
  • Multimedia database for organising and collecting eLearning media (MATRIX)
  • DNA fingerprinting and sequencing simulator (GeneE)
  • Graphs and equations display toolfor maths & physics (Graph-X graph explorer)
  • Data logger and games unit (Real-world Interactive Games and Electronics Link – RIGEL )
matrix multimedia database
Share /build

Personalise – skin with own colours and background image

Collect and organise files


Not MS Access; standalone 3Mb program

Students can take home

Media rich

Music, movies, photos, web pages, games, documents

MATRIX – multimedia database
genee dna fingerprinting
Interactive problem solving

Random element

Encourages re-use

Assessment tasks

Real data imported

DNA from GenBank

Assessment tasks

Graphic Design example

“Good” IWB solution

Pen/board inadequate

Cheaper than using electrophoresis

Time-lapse effect saves time

GeneE – DNA Fingerprinting

Prepare to meet your Maker…

Game Maker was created by Professor Mark Overmars, a lecturer in computer games programming at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

Based on Object Oriented Programming (OOP), games can be created by dragging and dropping items from a set of standard toolbars - great for novices.

However, it also includes a powerful built-in programming language, called GML, for intermediate and advanced students.

Game Maker is free to download and use. For a small license fee you can get some very useful add-ons and contribute to the continued development of the software.


How GM works…

In brief, the following things (often called resources) play a crucial role:

objects: which are the true entities in the game

rooms: the places (levels) in which the objects live

sprites: (animated) images that are used to represent the objects

sounds: these an be used in games, either as background music or as effects

backgrounds: the images used as background for the rooms

People need sprites to play a game… we think of the pictures as real


Computers understand only objects… a sprite is stuck on top so humans can see what the computer is doing with the objects.

my first game
My first game
  • Start Game Maker
  • Follow instruction sheet
  • Ask for help when you need to

Mikaela gets a little help from a fiend…

elearning myths
eLearning Myths

e-learning is expensive.

Instead, it is poor e-learning that is expensive.

elearning myths39
eLearning Myths

You need to start with the simplest concepts and tasks.

Instead, learners prefer jumping into interesting tasks, then breaking them down into their components as it becomes understandably necessary.

elearning myths40
eLearning Myths

The “tell-and-test” paradigm: convey a block of content through slides, animations, etc, then give a quiz.

Instead, learners enjoy a challenge. If learners can meet the challenge, you won’t have bored them by telling them things they already know.

If learners can’t meet the challenge, they can ask for help. In asking for help, learners will value the information you give them and see its relevance immediately.  

elearning myths41
eLearning Myths

You should give learners immediate feedback.

Instead, delaying feedback as learners work through multi-step tasks is often much more effective. It entices learners to monitor their work more closely and make corrections without relying on external assessment and guidance.   

design tips
Design tips
  • “Question bank” or other random element encourages multi-use, eg, GeneE fingerprints
  • Good quality graphic design
  • Intuitive controls that follow normal “unwritten” conventions, eg, left-click, F1, etc
  • IWB/ SmartBoard ready design
  • Performance feedback (high score table?)
rigel data logger system
Multi-discipline learning is possible between, but not limited to, any of





Earth Science



Physical Education


Game design


RIGEL data logger system

Multipurpose system invented by Michael Fenton







  • remotely monitor or activate equipment or machinery.
  • monitor alarms and act as a security system
  • monitor respiration and heartbeat
  • link a player remotely to games on a computer or 3D games projected into a room
  • encourage exercise when used to play Laser Tag outside the classroom

See The Education Weekly, June 18th 2007

rigel data logger system45



Wire or wireless

Burst mode

Polling mode

Inexpensive and flexible

Easy to reprogramme



A ypod per student!

RIGEL data logger system
rigel data logger system46
RIGEL data logger system
  • 2-way system between PC and external remote devices
  • Process control eg monitoring and remote control of oil drilling platform
  • Record to disk for import to Excel
  • Sensors: Visible light, infra-red, temperature, pressure, magnetic field,
  • digital on/off, static electricity
rigel data logger system48
RIGEL data logger system

Detecting firing of a spark plug…

rigel data logger system49
RIGEL data logger system

Year 13 Calculus internal assessment Level 3 NCEA

Modelling using trigonometric equations

rigel reads centameter
RIGEL reads CentaMeter!
  • The Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Generation Pilot Project (EnviroPower) is a New Zealand first for 2007/2008 at Inglewood High School in Taranaki…
  • A fantastic opportunity to collect data and generate statistics about energy use at school!
  • seasonal trends
  • daily trends
  • contrast term and holiday usage (identify waste/inefficiencies)
the end
The End!

Todays session was a BRIEF look at “Game Maker” and its links to mathematics.

You can contact Mike at Inglewood High School; [email protected]

or visit his website for any other topics involving:

Science experiments (junior and senior)

Gifted children


Games Design

Crime Scene Investigation/Forensics

Science Fair

Dr Who (time machines and daleks!)