contest-mode for challenges with a highscore

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contest-mode for challenges with a highscore

Postby DrAgon » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:06 am

The contest-mode should enable the challenge of pupil, they
have a certain set of tools only, to get from startposition A
to endposition E. They can get a score. The contest-file itself
should be resistant to alterations and can be opened maybe
only by a slim standalone-application. Maybe the score
can be written into a highscore-list, which could be published.

1) Didactics

A "challenge" is a fundamental element for education.
If you want, i can add some didactical comments about
the importance of a challenge, and some examples of
positive effects of pojects like "The great egg race"

( english: Egg Races & other practical problem-solving activities, London 1983,
german: see Hans-Joachim Gärtner
http://www.chemie-biologie.uni-siegen.d ... emrace.pdf
more references in ... g_Race.pdf )

or the bridge building contest
( bridge building game, english:
german: bruecken-verbinden-2007 and )

or some catapult-building contests:
( english: ... crazy.html

On the one side its great to have lectures, tutorials and training units,
and nicely Algodoo sets up a sandbox where free creativity can be enhanced,
but i would like to see an improved way for challenges that could take place
with the help of Algodoo, if there would exist some extra features, that i would
like to describe below.

2) Problem solving

a) A simple example: maze
Consider a maze given in Algodoo, and the pupil should try to move a ball
from the startposition A to an endposition E by usage of thrusters.
The faster they reach the endposition, the higher
the score they get, and they also get subtraction of points, if they
run into traps. So they have to think ahead before and
at the crossings using the 4 keys for left-right up-down
acceleration of the ball.
This way they learn how acceleration and works and that its important
go get slower before the crossing.
So far, so good... but they could also cut 2 straight lines with the
cutting-tool from the start to the endposition, let walls fall down or
push them aside on 0-gravity, drag the ball to its endposition and gain
a highscore. Cheated. At moment i can not prevent this method, its
working also in the play-modus of Algodoo.

update on 9. August: uploaded a maze-scenario where i implemented
getting a score, but no time-measurement at moment.
To prevent slightly cheating by cutting tools, i made invisible
balls, which, when hit, dissolve and raise the score. But still some
cheating is possible via dragging the orange ball instead of using the
its algobox nr. is 71724, so you can download it from


b) Trap cheaters: possible but difficult
By usage of thyme-scripting i can keep trace of "real" movements, but
its allways difficult and takes much time to implement from problem to problem.
For the example above, i could check if intermediate positions B, C and D
have been reached, and if not, i have evidence for cheat.
For other teachers this task might be not acceptable, too much effort for
the given effect. But to build up a collection of competition-like scenarios
we need the help of many teachers, who build their challenges on their own.

c) Generalization of a problem
Given a state A i want the pupil to modify it by usage of a set "a" of
tools that come along with the scenario, so they work on it and reach
the state B in a time t, avoiding trapps s, and get extrapoints e.
The score they reach is then a function of all these variables, that means
it is: score(a,t,s,e).
And there should be no cheating possible, that is: No other tools then the
set "a" should be possible to use. Several ways of solving the problem
are allowed though, and are also desireable to develop creativity.

d) Writing results into a file
It would be nice, but it is of lesser importance then the "no cheating"-condition,
if at solving the problem, the score can be written into a hidden, undeletable file of the
pupil, that is readable by the teacher. This way the teacher can in principle generate
a highscore-list for the class for the given problem for the time-range ( like a week ).

3) Modification of the play-modus
At moment the play-modus can be entered by Shift-space, and Shift-space also
switches back to construction-modus. The play-modus allows to drag (D),
move (M) and cut (T).

Let me suggest some modifications that would make the life much easyer for me
and teachers, when they like to create challenges for pupil:

a) A real play-only-modus and the contest-file
In the real play-only-modus the player can not switch back into construction-modus.
He can only use a specified number of tools, that are given by the scenario-file,
that i call contest-file. The contest-file has a seperate file-extension: phzc
The algodoo-program should be enabled to produce such a contest-file
from the actual algodoo-file phz.

b) Player for the contest-file
There could be two ways to make this real:
i) If the .phzc file is read by the usual algodoo-program, then it treats
it in a real play-only-modus, no further alterations can be made in the
scenario except by the tools given by "a", and the modifications reached
in that way cant be saved. The pupil will use it to reach the state B,
and as soon as the start-button is hit, the time t used for this, is measured.
After reaching state B, the score is displayed ( and maybe saved ).

ii) There is a special contest-Algodoo-player, in which the .phzc files can be
opened, and only with this contest-Algodoo-player they can be opened.
So in the usual Algodoo-program the .phzc files are no more displayable
and cant be simulated with it anymore. This version has the advantage, that
the set "a" of usable tools could be displayed when certain keys are hit
on the keyboard, like "D" for drag, and if the drag is not element of "a",
then the D-key is not enable-ing this feature.
Example: there was a while ago a Multimedia-creation-program "Scala mm200", that
produced .mmx files, i bought that program. It
came along with a free a free run-time player, for distribution on the internet,
which was able to work with the .mmx files but wasnt able to change them.

4) Benefits of the contest-files
a) It will not only make things easyer for us teachers, but will bring challenges for
pupil, they will learn a lot more. The motivation is usually very high, specially
if there is a high-score-list. If you want, you can even give a top 10 highscorelist
accessable for each uploaded .phzc file, where the associated name of the player is
b) If widely used in schools, the .phzc files contribute to the knowledge and usage of
Algodoo worldwide, and hopefully your apps-selling rate will increase, so you get
a real profit in money by that.
c) If you choose 3)b)ii), you can even make an app, that is for sale and uses
the .phzc files.

5) My estimation
Surely not all schools will use the algodoo software, but i will care for the
implementation in germany with all the instruments that are availlable to me.
Publications in papers as well as conferences, and i will do further trainings for teachers.
So my estimation will be that about every third school in germany will use
Algodoo for science teaching within the next 10 years.

6) Think about it
You can do it. As you made the play-modus, you can surely
make 3)b)ii) real. If you need help in man-power , then consult the university Umeå
you worked in. If you need money for giving you the chance to get time for
making this project to come true, then ask for your education-government
of sweden, i could also try to get into contact with
Bundesministerin Johanna Wanka, to see which are the preliminaries to get money
from the project "Horizont 2020", the program to support research and innovation in Europe.
If not, we could also try to contact the "Vodafone Stiftung Deutschland".

Best regards, Dr. Balk
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