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Cheltenham Challenge: Making Sense and Making Puzzles

When you open http://jseden.dcs.warwick.ac.uk/scifest/ three windows appear called Canvas 2D, Script Input and Project List. At the Cheltenham Science Festival we were showing the projects called Light Box and Hexagon Colouring. Our challenges are to do with those two models. When you open a project (or model – we mean the same here) a new window JSPE Slides appears. JSPE stands for JS-EDEN Presentation Environment. These presentations explain a bit more about the models, suggest a variety of things to explore, and have some questions to try answering.There are about a dozen slides connected with each of our two challenge models.

Slides

Both sets of slides are like a journey of discovery. The writer is jotting down their thoughts and questions as they do more experimenting with the scripts. You will need to make a similar journey yourself. You can simply follow the journey in these slides, it's the main route – but you can also explore other new footpaths as you wish. If you feel you've got lost - don't worry, you can refresh the page and start again. In case you've made a lot of changes you want to keep - see the guidance later on in this page. The slides help you make some changes because the bits in courier font are new bits of scripts for which you can click on 'execute' and they are automatically put in the Script Input window and Submitted. You can always do this manually too. You really need to have followed most of the slides for a model carefully to be in a position to do the challenge for it.

Scripts

A script here means a collection of relevant things we can observe (e.g. in the colouring puzzle a hexagon being coloured red), some dependencies between observables (e.g. the hexagons adjacent to the red one cannot be red), and agents - like you the modeller - who can change observables and dependencies. These scripts are really not like programs because they don't have a specified behaviour - what usually matters is how the visualisation responds to the changes and experiments you make. However there are small parts of the scripts (functions and actions) which are like little programs. So if you've done some programming those bits will probably be familiar to you. If you have not done any programming don't worry, we hope you will soon pick up the ideas.

Challenges

For the Light Box the challenge is exploring the questions on slide 3 (the three questions about working out where the mirrors are only by seeing where the light rays come out), and slide 7 (about the length of light rays). Your answers should contain descriptions of experiments you have done to help decide the questions with details of suitable examples or counter-examples to support your claims.

For the Hexagon Colouring the slides explain how the puzzle was made. Here the challenge is to make a new colouring puzzle of your own invention using similar methods. For example, a simple puzzle might be colouring a 'brick wall' pattern of rectangles using similar principles to the hexagon puzzle, a more difficult puzzle would be finding a recurring pattern of different shapes which requires at least four colours for a colouring. Your answer here would include a script of your final model together with some description of the difficulties you encountered and how you overcame them.

Your Entry: Our Expectations

You are not expected to attempt both challenges! Each one is very challenging in itself - especially since there is limited support available. There is no rush. We shall accept entries up until 31st August 2015. For the 'descriptions' to which we refer you will probably need to write at least two sides of A4, there is no upper limit on how much you write. When you are ready you should send your entry as an attachment - in any standard format - to challenge at dcs dot warwick dot ac dot uk. You are free to include any screenshots, or images, etc that you regard as helpful to illustrate your work.

Please include with your entry your name, email address and a contact telephone number. If you are under 18 on the date given above please state your age also. There are a number of Amazon gift vouchers (each of value £20) for entries of a high standard as judged by members of the CONSTRUIT! Team in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Warwick. The challenges have been deliberately left rather open-ended. Our criteria for 'a high standard' will include: attention to what we have said here and under 'Challenges'; attention to the spirit of the material in the presentation slides of each model; originality in thought and interpretation; evidence of achievement in your exploration of the Light Box, or your construction of a colouring puzzle; the descriptions to which we refer should be clearly written in good English. If under 18 your age will be taken into account in judgements of standard.

All entrants will be sent a short questionnaire and be invited to participate in the CONSTRUIT! Project.

Advice and Questions

You will probably find it helpful to study some of the other models (also called construals) in the Projects List in order to see more examples of how the environment can be used. There are many references to JS-EDEN within the Computer Science website (you can try searching for them). Be aware the environment remains under development and some versions are no longer available, or may not offer certain features. We may add to this Advice section from time to time so please look back here to see if there have been any changes.

You may send us questions to challenge at dcs dot warwick dot ac dot uk but we have very limited resources so answers may be brief! If we receive many questions we may make an FAQ for this page. Please consult that first.

Steve Russ and Jonny Foss for the CONSTRUIT! Team at Warwick June 2015

What is JS-Eden?

The JS is for JavaScript, the EDEN is for Evaluator of DEfinitive Notations. Definitive notations have a long history within the Empirical Modelling Research Project at Warwick. (You can find out more from http://warwick.ac.uk/em). In recent years an EDEN interpreter has been built within JavaScript to create the environment JS-EDEN which will run in a web browser. There are several versions of JS-EDEN, we are using the 'scifest' version named after a Science Festival event in Finland recently. It means you can use Javascript and HTML5 within a JS-EDEN script. There is no general Guide to JS-EDEN yet. But see the Advice section below.