Peter and the Computer Fair


** UPDATE **
Peter won 1st place in the regional computer fair.  Now he moves on to compete at the State level in May


My son Peter has been working on a mobile app for computer fair.  He’s 15, was not a programmer, and the “challenge” was to create an educational game for K-12, or any group in that range.  He had seen me working on a game tutorial class hosted on – a fantastic site, with great tutorials if you want to learn.  He took Jay’s Froggie Went a Hoppin’ game (the game you build as you go through the video series) and put a twist to it.

In Jay Whye’s game, you play a frog, and on each level you move your frog through the pond, from start to finish, hopping on as many lilly pads as possible. Each lilly pad you hop on disappears so you can not go back, or retrace your hops.  Once at the end, you lose 5 points for each pad you left in the pond.  In the higher levels, a snake slithers through, and will kill you if it touches you.  Also, if you take a path that leads to a dead end (since you can’t go back) you die.  Very addicting game actually, and a great way to learn how to code in Corona.

His video series, Beginning Mobile Game Development, starts with a Lua boot camp, which goes through the basics and some more advanced topics of the Lua language, and then walks the student through each step to build out the game.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 9.00.32 AM

Professor Hopalong’s Math Adventure Title Screen

Peter wanted to build a math game for little kids, and decided to use Jay’s game framework as a basis, and change it up a bit.  In Peter’s game, your a bunny.  Each level presents a math problem (ie level 1 is 1+1=?).  The board is a path of carrots that lead to 3 different rabbit holes.  One hole contains the correct answer to the math problem.  You eat as many carrots as you can to get to the correct answer, and when you do, you win the level.  If you hop to the wrong answer (rabbit hole), you die (nice right?).

Peter changed all the graphics so your main character is now Professor Hopalong.  Since you’re a rabbit, you hop through a garden, eating a path of carrots, hopping to one of three rabbit holes.  The title sequence displays Professor Hopalong, in front of a bunch of carrots, with the default play, options, and credits buttons from Jay’s game.  All the graphics are either from Vicki Wenderlich, or from free use graphics, clip art and sound track sites.  Here’s a screen shot of level 2 –

Level 2 - Professor Hopalong's Math Adventures

Level 2 Screen shot with carrot path and 3 rabbit holes.

There are still a few little things he’d like to change, for example – right now each level is a static math problem.  So level 1 is always 1+1.  He wants to give each level a range of numbers to include in the math problem, and randomly choose those numbers.  So maybe level 1 contains a low and high of 1 and 2 – so that math problem could be 1+1, 1+2, or 2+1.  Level 2 might be 1 and 3 and so on.  Level 5 might start getting harder and be 2 and 6, so the number 1 is not in any of the math problems now.  As you go to higher levels, the problems get harder.  Starting at level 10, 20, 30 – he wants to change up and introduce subtraction, multiplication and division respectively, and each of these first levels with the new operators will start with lower numbered problems.

Its pretty neat, and I’m proud of what he’s done, however, it’ll never be published to the app store, its strictly going to just be a simulator demo for the fair.  I can’t afford to purchase a license for this, and I think since its based on Jay’s tutorial code, we’d have to work out a deal or something, not sure.  For the purposes of him learning to code, getting excited about programming, and the improvements I’ve seen in his ability to debug things (like a real programmer), I think it was worth the time.  Plus I got to spend time with my son helping him learn something I love.

The fair is March 25th, we’ll see how he does.

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One Response to Peter and the Computer Fair

  1. J. A. Whye says:

    That is so awesome I can’t believe it! And it’s exactly the kind of thing I hoped would happen with the release of the Froggy code!

    What I didn’t want to see happen was someone change the name, move the menu buttons to a different position, and release it as “their” game.

    But Peter has done a great job of building on the Froggy code to make what I think is a completely new game.

    If you decide to spring for the license so you can publish it, you have my permission to go for it as far as the Froggy source code goes.

    If you guys want some help on randomizing the math problems, let me know.

    Peter, congratulations on what looks like a fun educational game, and good luck at the computer fair!


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