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Activities within the CONSTRUIT! exploratory workshop

The following links point to subpages with up-to-date details of construals currently under development that we plan to deploy at SciFest. We hope that these construals can be developed and documented further with input from across the consortium over the next few days. The five construals to be deployed relate to five themes:

  • shopping - an 'everyday' activity
  • the science of light
  • making music
  • making and playing games
  • solving puzzles

The main priority is to make sure that there is good enough documentation for each construal and a suitable suite of activities to enable pupils to work independently, or at any rate without relying too heavily on expert support. For SciFest, we shall make use of an up-to-date 'scifest' version of JS-EDEN (based on the current version at which has been developed by Elizabeth Hudnott. This is better suited to use by novices than the current 'construit' version of JS-EDEN in some respects.

This construal is intended to be an archetypal resource from which many explicit 'open educational resources' can be readily derived. Ideally, we would like to demonstrate that such adaptation for use can be carried out by non-specialist teachers, and we are continuing to work towards that objective. In the context of SciFest, we see potential to introduce the Shopping construal as a resource for teachers that can generate useful OERs for topics such as e.g. basic numeracy and life skills. At our SciFest workshop, we shall be using a variant of the shopping construal developed by Steve Russ as the basis for an introductory session. This is designed to give participants initial familiarity with the ideas of observables and dependencies and demonstrate the most basic skills in using the 'scifest' MCE.

The aim in this activity is to set up a simple physical experimental environment in which rays of light pass through an environment in which they are potentially reflected by mirrors. Experimenters will be able to choose different discrete entry points and observe at which point a ray emerges, but the mirrors themselves will be hidden from view within a 'black box'. The objective will be to determine the configuration of mirrors - an exercise in 'construal'. Our intention is to use our MCE to make an intelligible virtual construal that can be used to assist the experimenters.

This activity poses the puzzle of colouring a map region that comprises fifteen hexagons using four colours in such a way that adjacent hexagons have different colours, using each colour at most four times. This activity can be supported by a virtual construal that gives 'hints' by excluding colours that have been used on an adjacent region (a good illustration of dependency). Activities might relate to colouring with and without the automated support in place, and to colouring the grid with just three colours when there is no restriction on the number of times each colour can be used.

Nim is a well-known 2-person game. Players take it in turns to remove any number of stones from a set of piles of stones. On each turn, a player may only remove stones from one pile. The winner is the player who picks up the last stone. There is a simple mathematical strategy for deciding whether a configuration of piles of stones is a winning position. This construal enables players to explore this strategy. As a twist to the traditional game, we may imagine that the game is played with coins, and that, prior to taking a turn, any subset of coins within a pile can be replaced with a single coin that has equivalent value.

This is a construal that was briefly demonstrated at C5. It has been implemented by Elizabeth Hudnott to illustrate techniques for teaching keyboard skills to young children devised by Meg Beynon. We have a number of possible activities in mind for this construal, one of which may relate to the science behind 'equal temperament' in piano tuning.

In several of the above examples, there is potentially scope to integrate the virtual construals we are developing with physical devices, subject to logistic constraints (such as the time and resources available, and the portability of special apparatus etc).