Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Trucks Computer Games & Science

What does a truck computer game and science have in common? Well, on Tuesday we found out. Jordan is learning about graphing points in math, and he was playing a computer game before Tech Club where you drive a truck off a ramp and the game records how far and high the truck goes.

We wanted to see if the game world's gravity worked like gravity in the real world. Assuming the speed is about the same for each case, the higher an object is thrown, the less far it will go in distance away from the spot it was thrown. Also, the further an object is thrown, the less high it will go. We played the truck game 10 times and recorded the height and distance data.

After recording all of the data, we entered the information into excel and made a graph with it so we could see if the game had a direct relationship between how far the truck went and how high it went. The speed was not recorded in this game.
We found there was no direct relationship in the video game between how far the truck went in height to how far it went in distance.

For the rest of the time we did some more experimentation with the Alice programming software before we get started on the first level of our video games. Jordan added a warehouse and had a train car crash into the wall of the warehouse.

After this week, we will be doing one science experiment each Tech Club meeting. It should be exciting. Also, we will be fundraising for Tech Club very soon to get more resources so we can expand the experiments and projects we cover. Stay tuned to this space to learn how you can donate!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Looking to the Past and the Future

Tuesday at Tech Club we did three main things:

  1. Learn about the contributions African Americans have made to science and technology
  2. Discuss what classes are helpful to take in high school to prepare for science and engineering programs in college
  3. Work more with Alice, the programming tool, to learn more about how to add stationary objects and how to make the moving objects interact with them

We read several of the bios on, to learn about African Americans in science and engineering. One person who stuck out was George Washington Carver, but not because he invented peanut butter. Things we didn't know about him were that his parents died when he was young and had to move from home to home, and sometimes the area he moved to didn't have a high school that would allow African Americans to attend. Fortunately the people he lived with then payed for him to have a tutor. I also learned he did not initially go to college for science, but for art. It wasn't until he transferred to Iowa State University did he study this in college. He was the first African American to attend Iowa State, and eventually went on to become a faculty member, until Tulane University offered him a job on their faculty and great research opportunities.

After we spent some time reading and discussing these important figures in the history of science and engineering, we talked about some of my first year college experiences with math and programming in the University of Michigan engineering program. I shared which classes I took, or didn't take in high school that helped me, or could have helped me during that first year of college. I felt the two most important areas of study to have a solid foundation in for the first year of college were math and programming, though many high schools do not offer programming courses.

Lastly, we did some Alice programming. Sean built a mini city and added a few characters and had a dragon flying off of one of the sky scrapers.

Next week we hope to do some more programming with Alice, and talk about how Facebook newsfeed works and how people make games for Facebook. That's all for now! See you next week!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Quarter, New Tech Club, And 3D Programming

Tech Club has been going through some transitions, so sorry we haven't been updating frequently, but you will see many more updates soon about Tech Club. This quarter Tech Club will be focusing on learning some computer programming with the help of a really awesome program named Alice and we will be learning more about careers in science and technology as well as looking at some cool experimental technology people are working on.

Today with the program Alice, we mainly experimented with the objects and did some simple movements with them. Specifically we did some simple flying movements with the red dragon in the picture for this post.

In addition to working with Alice today, we learned about a biomedical engineering student and a civil engineering student on Here is one of the students we learned about today:

In addition to learning about different types of science/tech/engineering majors, we learned about some interesting things people have done with technology, specifically, this lego printer:

Possibly in the future we will be doing our own projects with Legos, but that will probably be next quarter. We are excited to do more with Alice programming next week and learn more about what cool new things are going on in technology!