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Comment: Re:Scratch ( (Score 1) 237

by Maria D (#38514630) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Tools For Teaching High School Kids How To Make Games?

You are thinking of something else. Scratch is free and open source. It's very accessible for newbies. A good path for a group is to start with Scratch, where you can make a little arcade game in an afternoon without any prior programming experience. Then some kids can move to more advanced platforms, like Pygame, but some will be happy to stay with Scratch for a while, in my experience.

Comment: Re:Emily Rosa (Score 3, Informative) 174

by Maria D (#34650426) Attached to: 8-Year-Olds Publish Scientific Bee Study

Piaget published his first paper, also on biology, at ten. He could not get into the local scientific library without being a scholar. He asked what it takes, and the librarian said "a publication" - so he did just that.

I wonder if his early problems led him to study what children are capable of later. Ironically, his developmental theories were often misinterpreted to mean that children should be restricted from some studies, especially in mathematics. There are some videos of Piaget yelling at people for that, at conferences. He has fun studies on toddlers doing proportional reasoning and what not.

Comment: Re:If you can't handle calculus, science isnt for (Score 1) 467

by Maria D (#31722830) Attached to: Help Me Get My Math Back?

What Garridan said about symbolic manipulation and rock-solid algebra is probably true about the majority of current calculus courses. However, I like to take a different approach to calculus. You start with general ideas explored somewhat qualitatively. The ideas include limits, series, convergence, and manipulating "infinities of different sizes." Once the ideas are in place, you gradually fill in the computational apparatus for them.

I do this with kids in Math Clubs, and they can be as young as six when we start. You can find parent descriptions of some of our meetings at the Natural Math email group: There is also a good book about this approach, called "Calculus by and for young people" by Don Cohen: If this approach makes sense to you, consider getting Don's book from the library.

Comment: Re:Old (Score 1) 342

by Maria D (#30377236) Attached to: New <em>WoW</em> Patch Brings Cross-Server Instances

Are you claiming all ROLEPLAYING activities are not games? In this case, your definitions are not widely shared.

There are many classes of games that don't involve losing, and some that don't involve winning either. Cooperative games, roleplaying games, artistic games are some examples of genres that don't involve winning or losing.

Comment: Re:Old (Score 1) 342

by Maria D (#30377194) Attached to: New <em>WoW</em> Patch Brings Cross-Server Instances

EVE does have instances (for solo), or at least it had something similar back when I played. Also, EVE can't accommodate ten million people on one server. Maybe some years down the road, with some technology advances (cloud computing?) and significant game redesign, it may somehow become possible... But not yet.

Comment: Re:Old (Score 2, Interesting) 342

by Maria D (#30377174) Attached to: New <em>WoW</em> Patch Brings Cross-Server Instances

Different people focus on different aspects of the game as large as WoW. I believe your experiences are valid - within the set of playing activities you experience yourself. Please don't over-generalize it to everybody, though. PvE and RP servers (or players) won't be affected as much, because world PvP has never been a big part of their gaming. Guilds raiding progression content will still raid together, because it takes consistent grouping - and their realm-specific social networks will stay within realms because of it. Arena teams, as well, are realm-based. Wintergrasp is a rather popular, successful way to make outdoors PvP meaningful and concentrated in time and space, and it won't get any worse.

The only minus I see for my style of playing is the inability to form Friends list cross-realm and to chat with friends from other realms. I usually add to my Friends list from groups I pick up. I hope Blizzard implements these options soon. They already made a step toward it with cross-realm Ignore list.

Comment: Re:StarCraft with nothing but the most useless uni (Score 1) 346

by Maria D (#28995715) Attached to: Finding New and Unintended Ways of Playing Games

Well, there are certain mayhem and killing urges in young men, probably biologically mandated - even best and brightest engage in such activities. One may argue that we are better off if such urges are channeled into fake worlds, rather than bringing death to real people and destroying real constructions and nature.

Comment: Re:Educational content as "cheat codes" (Score 3, Insightful) 160

by Maria D (#28964149) Attached to: What's In an Educational Game?

It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT for game mechanics to be intrinsically connected to the content. "Solve an exercise, reload a gun" demotivates the content of exercises, because they are seen as obstacles to some (other) prize. It takes a bit more thought to figure out how to make your content a necessary part of the game play, but it's worth it.

For a good math example in particular, try Zoombinis.


+ - Collaborative bibliographies?

Submitted by
Maria D
Maria D writes: "What are some good tools for creating shared academic bibliographies? I am involved in an open collaborative project where I'd like to invite participants to add to a shared, publicly accessible bibliography. So far, I found tools that support collaboration well but don't support standard bibliography styles, OR tools that support styles but not collaboration. I suspect some groups here figured out how to mash together existing tools."

Comment: Re:Correlation is not causation (Score 1) 1056

by Maria D (#26835571) Attached to: Court Rules Autism Not Caused By Childhood Vaccine

This is a scary slippery slope. After some nasty atrocities, major international conventions now protect the rights of individuals to decline medical procedures.

As for scientific evidence, huge monetary conflicts of interests tend to erode people's trust. Can you blame people for that? Take the story of thimerosal (thiomersal). Even after it was officially prohibited in baby vaccines, the old ones were not recalled. How can one read this? If it's safe, why prohibit it? If it's not safe, why not recall it? Stories like that undermine the trust.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of code." -- an anonymous programmer