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Activities within the CONSTRUIT! exploratory workshop

The following links point to subpages with details of construals currently under development that we plan to deploy at SciFest. In some cases, their descriptions may now be a little out of date. We hope that these construals can be developed and documented further with input from across the consortium in the coming weeks. 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. So far most of our attention has been directed at the shopping construal - Steve Russ's introduction to his shopping construal, newly developed / still under development in conjunction with a welcome page for CONSTRUIT!, is especially relevant in this context. For SciFest, we shall make use of an up-to-date 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 was introduced in conjunction with a questionnaire about CONSTRUIT! issued last month. It 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. We also envisage that it may be the focus for games that are educational and entertaining - potentially involving a number of interrelated activities that can be organised in a distributed manner. Alternative link: See the 'Examples of construals and resources' on the Welcome to CONSTRUIT! page, and the linked additional webpages about adaptations of the shopping construal.

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.

  • The GridColouring construal (currently needs to be run with version)

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.

  • The PianoKeyboard construal

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. At present, this construal needs to be run with the version of JS-EDEN and can be loaded by copying-and-pasting:


and pressing Submit. 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.

  • The ColourLine game (no longer to be used for the SciFest workshop)

This game has some resembles to traditional noughts-and-crosses, being played on a 3-by-3 grid on which players take turns to place R, G and B colour filters. The intention is to be the first player to make a line of cells of the same colour. The rules of the game are deliberately somewhat open, though a specific variant is proposed, and is supported by an initial prototype. Our aspiration would be to stimulate interest in how our game could be adapted on-the-fly by tweaking the construal and how this might interact with different regimes for automated play.

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).