Internship Reflection Week of 2012-01-23 [22] (Unity3D in the Media Lab)

This week got off to a slow start when we found out that our campus had no power on Monday.  After that, however, things have been pretty busy.  As a preparatory exercise for the Computer Game elective that I will be teaching to high schoolers starting at the end of February, I have been utilizing some students to try out some software packages that we might use.  That also gives me an idea of what learning activities we might use during the elective.

It was so exciting to see a student immediately start modifying the sample video game that came with the Unity3D software.  All the students were excited to play the game, a few were playing it over and over again until they had “solved” it.  This is the magic of facilitating an interest-based curriculum.

At various times I am fascinated to see students pull back from a project or task, since they imagine that it is too hard, or too much work or too much math.  I interpret that as a lack of confidence, fundamentally in them, and a challenge to me as the teacher to it accessible, i.e. to differentiate the exercises so that they feel confident and can go from success to success.

I had some good discussions with a couple of students (DM, MS) over their projects and interests that mesh with the CSI (Forensics) elective that I taught for the middle schoolers last semester.

Rough Timeline of Events [my notes only no need to evaluate]

Big Picture campus had no power on Monday 1/23.  I took my conditional certificate to district headquarters (ERAC) to get it registered (stamp on the back).

Sent mail to Interim Superintendent about Outlook 2010 access to work e-mail over the internet.

I finally got proxy permissions enabled for Outlook Web Access to access email 24×7, it was a bummer to not be able to read my school e-mail when I was working late or early in the morning.

Participated in portfolio surges for 201 (Wed) and 101 (Fri) classes.  The purpose of these was to get student portfolios into shape with documentation and other content in anticipation of upcoming exhibitions (Feb 6-10 and Feb 13-17).

Thursday I helped with a student project to get milk carton recycling going at the school during breakfast, middle school lunch, and high school lunch.

Sent a rough diary of interactions with students on 1/24

From: John Weisenfeld GMAIL []
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 4:19 PM
To: Jessica Rottweiler; David Levine;
Cc: LD, DP, MJ, MS, KE
Subject: Rough Diary of Activities Tuesday 2012-01-24

Today KE helped me get Unity 3D game development software

( installed on 8 computers in the media lab.

He then helped me debug the usage of that software when signed in as a student. We spent most of the day in that game development software playing a sample game that comes with that package (AngryBots).

MJ joined us around 10:00 or 10:30 am in the media lab and figured out how to use the software to modify AngryBots so that certain features of gameplay would change. He also mentioned that he would like to take a sample SAT test, and I wanted to point out that he can do that online for free at

I went and got DP and MS from advisory at about 10:30a or 11am and they were also interested in seeing Unity 3D and playing the sample game.

LD joined us at about 11am, and also took a look at the sample game.

While a few folks were playing Doodle Jump (a vertical scrolling game), others were looking for other Unity-based games that we could download the source code for modification and future experimentation.

All-in-all I think this was a productive day, since I was unsure if Unity 3D would be suitable for use in the Gaming Elective that I plan to start this Friday. I appreciate the help these scholars provided today and look forward to more experimentation with this tool in the coming weeks.

If they participate in the elective I have some ideas about reports or projects they could do on:

1. game companies

2. topics in the game industry

3. topics in game design

4. journal of games they play, for how long, and what type of game

(genre) and what they like and don’t like about the game

All of these will inform our work during the elective as we talk about the roles needed to produce a game (Engineering), and what we personally like about certain games (realism, i.e. Science/Physics) and the tools it takes to produce a game (Technology/Programming).

I would love to add comments like this to individual learning plans in the future, but I need to be added to the most current learning plans for these folks, I will follow up with them, but it would be great if advisors could make sure that Dan Dundon ( and myself ( are added to current learning plans.


John Weisenfeld

STEM Specialist/Intern

Highline Big Picture High School

206.631.7724 (work)

425.301.7404 (cell)

I also wrote a small report of student interactions on 1/26

From: John Weisenfeld GMAIL []
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 4:10 PM
To: Jessica Rottweiler; David Levine
Cc: Dan Dundon; LD; DP; MJ; KE
Subject: Quick Debrief on Today 2012-01-26

Hi Jessica, Hi Mr. Levine,

KE sent the day with us here in STEAM working on his Discovery Corps application.  His essays are looking good, he just has one more form that he needs to take home, get signed and bring back and I think we can postmark his application off to the Science Center by the deadline.  I had thought I might have a chance to get to some work in the Media Lab, but he spent a lot of time watching/helping with the pheasant dissection that Dan was doing today.

MJ spent some time in the Media Lab today working on Unity (game development software) and signing up for Microsoft DreamSpark.  I have been hoping that our students would take advantage of DreamSpark since it provides free access to Microsoft professional software development tools and 90 days of free access to professional training (on how to build apps for iPhone, or Windows Phone or …). We watched a few minute samples of those and although they are pretty high level do have some demonstrations that our more technically adept students should be able to follow along on.

DP almost got signed up for DreamSpark and got especially excited if he could access training (Plural Sight) to help him get better at writing applications for the Windows Phone (since that is what he has).  I worked much of the afternoon trying to get Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Professional installed on a couple of machines in the Media Lab, as I type the first one is still trying to finish…  Note that once these students have access to DreamSpark they can download software and install, or watch training from home, the library, etc.

LD, MJ and DP all discovered a new type of game that none of them had played before which allows for multiplayer basketball (third person, you are looking down on the court from midcourt controlling your avatar).   The game has been written in Unity 3D which helps students make the connection that a tool they have access to actually can generate games that they consider interesting or that they think have high play value.  We are still searching for a game that we can get the source code for so that we can tweak and hack and get some good learnings from, no real luck yet beyond the AngryBots demo that comes with the Unity 3D free package.

John Weisenfeld
STEM Specialist/Intern
Highline Big Picture High School
206.631.7724 (work)
425.301.7404 (cell)

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  • John Weisenfeld  On May 4, 2012 at 10:37 am

    NOTE: I have since been corrected that the personal Unity license does not allow for such educational use. I need to find another tool/way to instruct students.

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