Programming in Etoys

The difference between an average tech ed teacher and me is that I teach programming visually, using a programming environment called Etoys. It is a digital environment where kids can draw paintings and then they can program their paintings using a drag-and-drop visual component style programming, similar to Visual Basic but better.

On this page, I’ll be showcasing all the cool programming projects my students did. Now, it would be awesome if I’ve embedded actual programs in the website so you could interact with them, but I’m a teacher, not web developer so you’ll get YouTube videos! 😛 

Below each YouTube video demonstrating the students’ project, there’s a short interview with the student*, or a team of students, who made the project.

Table of contents:
1)  Car accident
1.b) Car accident – interview
1.c) Behind the Scenes: Car Accident
2) Haiku: ‘The USA will burn now’ 
2.b) ‘The USA will burn now’  – interview
3) Haiku: ‘Love’
3.b) ‘Love’ – interview
4) Day and Night
4.b) Day and Night – interview
5) Poem: ‘Handshake’
5.b) ‘Handshake’ – interview

1) Car accident

This fun little non-animation was made by a seventeen year old student. Why did I use the term “non-animation”? This certainly looks like and sounds like an animation, but in reality it has been made by programming. Everything you see is an object that has its own attributes such as x and y coordinates, movement speed, etc., and one can use those attributes to do something with the drawings, such as make them move and play sounds!

1.b) Car accident – interview

Here I am with Lorenco, the author of the ‘Car Accident’ Etoys project. Tell me Lorenco, how did I introduce Etoys and why did you decide to make what you made?

Well, you came into the classroom one day and told us you’ve found an amazing tool for teaching programming visually. You showed us a couple of projects and then you told us to make something of our own!

I started drawing a van for no reason, and when I was finished you asked me whether I could do something more with it. I said that it would be cool if the van moved so we programmed it to move. Then, you asked what else can we do? I then drew the road and the lamp post. Again, you asked can we do something more? I decided to make the van crash into the pole. Then you asked what else can happen when the van crashes into a pole? The driver could exit the van and hit the pole, and increment  by increment we arrived at the finished project.

It’s funny when you think about the fact that we started with an empty canvas and no goal, but in the end we made a perfectly sensible digital experience!

I learned a lot about the process of incremental development, that’s for sure.

Do you have anything to add for the end of the interview?

Etoys really is the BEST tool for learning the basics of coding. Also, making the driver hit the pole and fall down with it was the most difficult technical challenge I’ve faced in my life. WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW to go behind the scenes to see the inner workings of the project, but also to find out how I solved my problem!

1.c) Behind the Scenes: Car accident

2) ‘The USA will burn now’ haiku

Most Etoys projects were so called audio-visual poems. I was inspired by the official project that can be found in the Etoys workbook and I suggested to students to find a cool image on the Internet and make a poem about it. Then, it’d be cool if they enriched the poem with some visuals and sound. Thus, audio-visual poems were born!

Now, without further ado, I present you the first one:

2.b) ‘The USA will burn now’ – interview

I am here with Gabriel, author of the ‘The USA will burn now’ haiku. Gabriel, tell our readers how did you get the idea to make this particular audio-visual haiku?

No problem teacher I’ll explain and I’ll explain it right. We have been doing Etoys for several weeks back then and one day you marched into the classroom and said that you have an awesome idea for an Etoys project. You showed us the ‘San Francisco Bridge’ haiku and then told us to find an image on the Internet which we will use as a base for our own haiku.

Then, we spent the entire period watching funny video on the Internet.

A fine use of your time and freedom, is it not?

It was most certainly so teacher, those videos were pretty funny. But I’m glad that next time when you came, you decided to turn off our Internet and gave us a set of images to choose from.

Sometimes one needs to sacrifice freedom to be able to get some work done.

Exactly the reason why I’m glad you did that, because I found this great image of Trump and Obama. Back then, Trump becoming president was huge news, huuuge I tell you, so I knew I wanted to make a haiku about him.

It’s a sad haiku, isn’t it?

Yes teacher, it is sad indeed. I mean, American people literally dug their own graves by electing Trump. And so, I had a vision that America will burn and that’s how the haiku came to be.

A fascinating story indeed. Do you have anything else to add before we finish?

The only thing I’d add is that I really had fun learning to animate the burning flag. I love that you can do all kinds of things in Etoys, and animation being one of them is really neat.

Well, Gabriel thank you for this awesome interview!

And thank you teacher for the awesome lectures and workshops!

3) ‘Love’ haiku

Next up, we have another haiku but this time the theme is love.

3.b) ‘Love’ haiku – interview

Here with me are Vlado and Ena, the authors of the audio-visual haiku called ‘Love’. Also, Vlado is a screenwriter who co-wrote the script for the short horror-comedy film named Tragedy, and he helped film our Break Time short film. Feel free to check those things out if you haven’t so far!

But enough about Vlado, let’s talk about the audio-visual haiku ‘Love’! Guys, tell us more about your project!

Vlado&Ena: Hello readers on the Internet. We are Vlado and Ena and we’ll tell you more about our project.

Ena: We have decided to make a haiku poem about love because both Vlado and me had been hurt by love at that time…

Being a teenager is hard…

Vlado: Tell me about it…

Ena: So there we are, hurt by love, and when we saw that image, we immediately fell in love with it. It’s so perfect for our theme. The man being ripped apart by his heart and brain.

Vlado: The lyrics just came pouring out of us and we wrote them pretty fast. Then we started brainstorming on how can we visually augment the poem. And it was super obvious! Why not actually rip apart the man!

Yeah, that visual is so perfectly clear. The man is psychologically being ripped apart by love and reason. His mind is telling him no, but his heart is telling him yes!

Vlado: Nice meme teacher.


Vlado: Then, we had to put some sounds in the project. We brainstormed on what’s the most iconic sound of love, and the Titanic song came to mind!

Ena: After we had the song, we threw in Leo and Kate as a final touch, for some comic relief. 

It certainly is funny to see them appear. Well guys, thanks for this awesome interview! Do you have anything to add for the end?

Vlado&Ena: Yes, stay away from love! It hurts too much! 😛

4) Day and night

We’ll take a break from audio-visual poems with another non-animation. This non-animation was made by a freshman high school student:

4.b) Day and night – interview

Here joining us is Emma, the author of the ‘Day and night’ Etoys project, but also the author of the “Unlucky Parachuter” Photoshop edit.

Tell us Emma, how did you decide to make this kind of project?

Well, when you introduced Etoys I really liked it because I love to draw. So I drew a sunny meadow and I was pretty satisfied with it!

But then you showed us how to animate–

You mean code!

Yes sorry… to code our projects to animate them, and an idea popped to my head of the sun rising and disappearing from screen. Naturally, when there’s no sun there’s moon, so I drew a starry sky. Then I mixed those two drawings together to get the final version of the project.

I must say, as a total dummy when it come to drawing, I was mind blown by your artwork.

Thanks teacher!

Final words?

Yeah. If you haven’t checked out my awesome Photoshop edit, CLICK HERE to do so!

5) Handshake

If you remember from the interview with Gabriel, giving the students freedom to choose an image they will write a haiku about was a total failure. That’s why I decided to download a few dozen images from the Internet and give them to all the students. Among those images, there was a very particular image where Trump and Obama had a meeting in the White House. So naturally, there was a lot of Trump poems 😛 

This was one especially special, partly because how technologically interesting it was to make, but also of the story behind the idea.

Luka, famously nicknamed Amigo, has been inspired by a video of a 19 second handshake between Trump and the Japanese Prime Minister.

In that video, Trump with his infamous aggressive and domineering handshake, famously physically violates poor
Shinzo for no more and no less than 19 seconds. Basically, Trump and Moon spend 19 seconds shaking hands while Trump metaphorically tries to rip Moon’s arm from his shoulder.

One more thing before the video: it’s completely normal that the video is silent for the first 18 seconds, and that the only that’s changing is the time on the stopwatch 😛 

Now, without further ado, I present you the ‘Handshake’ poem:

5.b) Handshake – interview

I am here with my friend Luka also called Amigo. How are you my friend Amigo? 😉

I am great Amigo and how are you!

It’s gonna be real confusing for our readers if we both call each other Amigo.

Yeah you’re right, they don’t know about our inside meme…

So Amigo, our readers already know about the story behind the idea of your project. What else can you add?

Well teacher, I’m not really satisfied with how the project turned out. It’s kind of lame that nothing happens in the first 18 seconds.

Also, I wanted to play Trump’s “I love America” speech at the end of those 18 seconds, but I couldn’t find it. So I settled with the “I love America” children’s song.

But I really had fun in figuring out how to implement the stopwatch that count to 18 seconds.

And that’s pretty much everything from me! Thank you teacher for spotlighting my project!

No problem Amigo, and thank you for the interview! KEEP READING if you’d like to go behind the scenes of the ‘Handshake’ project. You won’t believe how we programmed the stopwatch!

5.c) Behind the Scenes: Handshake

Coming soon…

*Most of the interviews were written post hoc and are based on the conversations between me and the students during the workshops.