Exquisite Corpse at Scratch Club
I’ve been trying to figure out how to get the kids in the Scratch Club to try new things. I decided to try something a little different this year. Since we have two classrooms, I didn’t think that I could get everyone working on the same thing in both rooms. So I decided to make the two rooms work for me instead of against me. Today when the kids arrived I said that everyone in one of the rooms would be working on a special project, and if you wanted to work on your own stuff you had to go into the other room.
I only had eight kids stay in the ‘special’ projects room in the end, but I think that was all for the best as I could get them all involved. Today’s project was to do an Exquisite Corpse in Scratch. While you may not necessarily be familiar with the term Exquisite Corpse you probably know the concept. You may be familiar with images where you divide the page into thirds, and one person draws the head, another draws the body and arms, and a third draws the legs – that’s an exquisite corpse. In writing, you may start a story on a blank page folding the top of the page down so only a few words are visible. The next person continues the story from those words, again folding the page down to only leave a few words visible for the next person. Repeat until the page is full, then you open up the page and read the story aloud. We used to do exquisite corpse stories when we were out at a restaurant with the kids. After you order and you’re waiting for the food to arrive, you have just about the right amount of time to do a story, and of course they’re usually hilarious. Sometimes the food would arrive before everyone had their turn and the kids would insist that we finish the story.
So what would it mean to do an exquisite corpse in a programming language? With Scratch being such a good platform for drawing and for storytelling it would be easy to do a graphic or story exquisite corpse in scratch. But that’s not what I wanted the kids to do, I wanted the program to be the exquisite corpse. So I came up with a plan to have each programmer do a small piece of the program in a certain order. After you finish one part of the program you switch seats with the programmer on your left and continue programming with that program.
Somewhat to my surprise it was a very successful day for the workshop. I think the kids that stayed for the workshop were a little unsure at the beginning. I think they were even a little surprised at how much fun it was. One of them at the end asked if we can do it again – that by itself lets me know that they had a good time. In the end, that’s what I want – I want them to think that creating their own programs can be fun.
Here are a couple of the projects from the Club. You can click on them to see the program in action. Just remember that this is an exquisite corpse, so it’s not supposed to make much sense if you weren’t there. It’s about the experience of creating it.