Saturday, April 24, 2010

Chaos in the Classroom

The classroom can be chaotic at times, especially as Summer approaches, but this time it was all on-topic.  Well, actually it was off-topic, as we were supposed to be working on the Graphical Interfaces for our Spring Semester projects.  Nonetheless, I had been reading about chaos the night before and took the opportunity to show my class the basics of attractors in chaos theory.

I had thrown together a quick Python program that allowed the user to choose values to iterate through a chaotic function.  I pulled up a great image from wikipedia and showed how the numbers produced were just where they should be, according to the image.  One of my students said, " I want to make that graph!"  I said, "yeah, go for it." 

That night I did what I often do: code some of the same projects that my students are working on, just to keep sharp.  I used John Zelle's graphics module and produced the above image.  Not bad. 

Of course Josh--my best Java programmer--threw together a Swing version that has about ten times the resolution....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Meng the Finisher!

Sometimes it pays to just let things go for awhile. 

Last week I showed my students a program I was working on in Processing: a simple RGB color tool that allowed you to alter the Red, Green, and Blue values to choose that perfect shade of ... well, for me it's usually purple.

Anyway, I had the prototype user interface and showed it to my students.  It was all there--except the sliders didn't work.  So basically I had painted a pretty, but non-functional, picture.  I told my students that I would get to the sliders soon and post the whole thing--source code included, of course--on our Processing Playground page.  Unfortunately I've had to spend a lot of time lately catching up on four plus pages of emails (most of them completely irrelevant--despite being marked as "high importance!"), so I haven't had much time to write any code.  When I have written code, it usually amounts to simple demos or other small snippets of code to aid some of my students with their Spring 2010 projects.

So I was pretty happy today when Meng showed me his completed RGB slider application.  How nice to see an idea reach fruition via the self-determination and "just for fun" motivation of one of the few students in the US that will graduate high school knowing how to write some serious code.

Step by step.  Paso a paso....