Toys for Young Robots

Each student will develop a series of programs for the hypothetical series "Toys for Young Robots." These programs will introduce children to computer programming within the context of writing short software toys and games. Each group of programs will feature a series of related short, exciting, well-designed, clearly-documented programs. All programs will be written using Processing.

Select an area of software that you're interested to work within and develop a series of related programs. For example, you could write programs for creating a robot puppet, a series of puzzles or games, a group of sound toys. You can use existing libraries to pursue your ideas (computer vision, 3D graphics, networking) and/or you might write your own classes or libraries to follow other ideas.

This project has the following Parts:

Part 1: Programming research
Part 2: Robot research
Part 3: Ideas
Part 4: Prototypes
Part 5: Refinement

Your work in progress will be documented online using a provided template.
The final work will be documented as a "Toys for Young Robots" website that we will develop as a group.

Weeks 1-2: Part 1, Context research
Working with one partner, explore an unfamiliar programming language used to teach programming to a non-traditional audiences: children, designers, artists. Write samples programs and demo them to the class. Examples languages and environments include Alice, BASIC, Logo, StarLogo, Scratch, Hackety-Hack, NodeBox, Context Free, VVVV, and HyperCard.
Due 12 January

Weeks 1-2: Part 2, Visual research
Select a topic (e.g., novels, movies, toys, contemporary robotics, video games) that give us insight into how robots relate to our culture. Select an area that you already know something about. This research will act as a catalyst for ideas and will provide a deep visual foundation for our work. Develop media elements appropriate for your area. For example, if you're researching contemporary robotics or video games or movies create a collection of videos and share those, if you're researching toys create a PDF of images. Post all material to the course server.
Due 14 January

Week 3: Part 3, Ideas
Decide on a direction to work within and create a series of idea sketches. Create ideas for a series of programs that progress from simple to complex and fit together as a group. For example, the simple programs might create functions or objects that are then utilized in the future programs. Make a plan for a series of between three and nine programs. Start with thumbnail sketches and then move onto storyboards. Explore many ideas and stretch yourself. Make all sketches on 8.5" x 11" paper and make sure they are legible to other people. Thumbnails must be done by hand but storyboards can be created digitally. The purpose of the ideas are to provide a starting point. The ideas will continue to develop throughout the quarter. This is arguably the most critical Part of the process; don't cut corners.
Due 21 January

Weeks 4-6: Part 4, Prototypes
Create a prototype for each of your programs. Before starting the prototypes, write a verbal description for each program and create a calendar for finishing the work by the deadline. Include deadlines for each class on the calendar. This document is due on Monday, Jan 26. Remember the goal for all programs, they must all be short, exciting, well-designed, clearly-documented.
Due 11 February

Weeks 7-11: Part 5, Refinement
Refine each program and the series of programs as a whole. Before starting the refinements, write a verbal description for each program and create a calendar for finishing the work by the deadline. Include deadlines for each class on the calendar. This document is due on Wednesday, Feb 18.
Due 18 March