May 17, 2017 was our last practice hackathon session before the main event scheduled for next Saturday, May 27th. The project assignment for this session was to create a game based on the popular Whac-A-Mole arcade game of the mid 1970’s. In the game, the moles pop out of their holes at random and the object of the game is to increase your score by whacking the moles on the head with a mallet and forcing them back into their holes as quickly as possible.
As in other practice sessions, coders could follow a base tutorial, then the teams earn additional points for each additional enhancement or modification to the base game. We used Al Sweigart’s Invent with Scratch Whack A Cat tutorial as our base for this session. Teams are encouraged to engage their creative juices even further by earning bonus points if they add features to the game that aren’t typically found in the basic Whac-A-Mole game.
All of the attending coders stepped up to the plate and did a terrific job! Not only did the teams come up with a variety of “moles” and backgrounds, but other creative variations included angled holes, moving holes, holes that changed color (therefore making the “mole” safe and a deduction of points if you hit it), extra points depending on the type of character you hit, timed game play, and high score among others. Our youngest coders in the 5-9 age group even came out with a higher team score then the older age groups. This friendly competitiveness among age groups and between teams in the same age group led to a very enthusiastic session. Coders were busy scrambling in the last hour as they tried to fit in more presentations to small groups of audience members to increase their scores further.
For practice sessions only, prizes are awarded to the first and second place teams in each age group, but these are meant just to make the practice fun. Prizes might be $5 gift cards to for Baskin Robbins ice cream, small toys, or large candy bars. Everyone gains from learning in the session and leaves with candy when they return home. The top scorers in each age group come up to present their projects. Our coders have become very smooth in their presentation skills and naturals at the mic! Congratulations to everyone who took part in our practice sessions, even for those who aren’t able to make the main event because everyone’s a winner for all of their hard work and practice!