Solve odd problems with coding and creativity
Something odd has happened! Inspired by ODD SQUAD, in this activity children will be challenged to solve odd problems using their creative coding skills. They will be challenged to create their own odd PBS KIDS ScratchJr projects that utilize patterns.
Children will learn how to debug projects, and how to use the programming blocks to create patterns in the app. They will explore coding and computational thinking practices as they utilize technology as a tool for creativity, expression and learning with the PBS KIDS ScratchJr app.
- iPads or Android tablets for each child (or group of children)
- The ODD SQUAD ‘Totally Odd Squad,’ episode (see below)
- TV, projector, computer, or another device to play the episode
- A document camera to display tablet work to the whole group or a cable to connect the tablet and projector
- Chalkboard, whiteboard, or poster paper
- Parent Handout (English | Spanish)
Getting Started (5 minutes)
The context in which you are engaging in this activity will impact how you get started. Take the time to set-up cues, preview what you’re going to be doing and why, and to get the kids ready and focused for a fun and creative PBS KIDS challenge.
Today everyone will work on debugging some odd problems and making their own programs that feature patterns using PBS KIDS ScratchJr and inspired by ODD SQUAD.
Ask a focusing question and have each child answer: What is something odd that happened to you recently?
Play (10 minutes)
Have everyone stand in a circle for a game of “Zip, Zap, Zop.”
- Have the whole group repeat those three words in order a few times. Zip. Zap. Zop. And explain that this is the pattern you'll be using throughout the game.
- Tell the group that you have a bolt of energy in your hands. To start the game, send the bolt out of your hands with a strong forward motion straight to someone else in the circle and say, “Zip.” Be sure you make eye contact with the person you pass it to.
- Now it’s that person’s turn to immediately send the bolt of energy to someone else by saying, “Zap,” using the same forward moving hand motion and eye contact.
- The third person passes it on with a “Zop,” to someone else in the circle.
- The game continues in that order, “Zip, Zap, Zop,” until there is a mistake.
- Play for as many rounds as time allows.
This game is a great way to get children active and focused and also helps to reinforce the computational thinking concept of Events; one thing causing another thing to happen. The game is all about triggers, events, and cause and effect relationships. It also a great representation of a game that is based on a pattern.
Explore (20 minutes)
Debugging is an important computational practice and also a great way to develop coding skills and knowledge. Being able to identify where or why something isn't working as intended and then being able to fix it, is valuable as children create their own projects with PBS KIDS ScratchJr.
Below are three odd projects created by Odd Squad agents that all have patterns in them. The problem is, they aren't working as intended. Recreate each project using the app and project it on a screen at the front of the room. As a group, work to debug the project by identifying why it isn't working as intended, and by then figuring out what can be changed to fix it. After debugging the problem, also take the time to identify the pattern in each project.
Debug Project #1
Debug Project #2
Debug Project #3
Watch (15 minutes)
View the 11-minute ODD SQUAD episode, 'Totally Odd Squad,' and ask the group to focus on how Ms. O uses pattern recognition to solve problems during the episode. Afterwards, discuss the sound, number, and color patterns the group observed in the episode. Come up with some sound, number, and color patterns of your own!
Create (30 minutes)
Inspired by ODD SQUAD, have everyone create their own odd pattern projects.
Challenge everyone to use the characters and the blocks to create a project that incorporates a pattern. The pattern could include repetitive movements, sounds, words, or all of the above. Encourage everyone to use the orange Repeat Block or the red Repeat Forever Block to extend the patterns they create.
If they run into any problems on their project, encourage them to utilize their debugging skills by first identifying where the problem is and then thinking up ways to fix it.
Make sure everyone has a tablet and make yourself available to lend support as everyone works on their projects. Also, encourage children to turn to each other for support and inspiration.
Make it More Challenging
Have children add themselves to their project as Odd Squad Agents using the Agent characters with blank faces and then using the camera feature in the paint editor to add their face to the character.
Share (15 Minutes)
Have children pair up and share their projects with one another. Model and encourage the giving and receiving of both warm and cool feedback. Also, encourage children to share and discuss the following:
- What odd pattern did you create in your project?
- Did you have to debug your project while you were making it? What was wrong, and how did you identify and fix the problem?