App of the Day – Creatorverse

If I was to list the criteria for what makes a good app, or what attracts me to any application, then one point on my list would be “something that is unique or unusual“. I love apps that stand out or do something a bit different. Yesterday I came across Creatorverse and today I have devoted a couple of hours getting to grips with it.

Creatorverse gives you the power to create simple “machines”,  games or interactive art work through physics and object manipulation. It has been built by Linden Labs, a company that has previously brought us the ground breaking Second Life On-line world.

This app is not immediately accessible and it does require you to at least watch some of the tutorial videos, but playing around with it is rewarding. It is not strictly speaking a  programming app like Scratch or Kodu, but it did fill me with the same sense of creative energy and achievement through puzzling, that I used to get when I used and extended basic code to create mini applications for the Purple Mash website.

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For some time, I have been concerned that there is a lack of any real STEM like apps on the App Store. If such apps do exist, then they don’t appear to be promoted or easy to find. Others may disagree, but after some head thunking hours of linking circles, drawing polygons, attributing values to each element and refining these tasks, I began to see how this could be a very apt fit within the potential new ICT curriculum. I challenge you to play and invent with Creatorverse, and then read through the proposed curriculum by BCS and Royal Academy of Engineering. You will come across extracts like the one below which seem to sum up the process  involved in making something with this new app:

Write programs to accomplish given goals; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts; recognize that there may be more than one algorithm to solve a single problem; detect and fix errors in algorithms and programs.

Page 1 Oct 22 2012 Initial Draft, not endorsed by DfE

At then end of some brief messing around, I came up with a car in severe weather. (Don’t Laugh) If you press the switch it activates a hail storm and when these encounter high winds then it gets very treacherous! I am sure my class will do better! I would have liked to have shown this in action below, but my screen recorder flickered very badly.

What could you do with it?

As it is so new, there are not many teachers that will have heard of the app yet and lesson ideas are pretty non-existent online. However a number of uses occurred to me:

  • With some support I could get my coding club to create vehicles such as cars and helicopters by experimenting with the settings for each object. In time they could build up to creating a game such as pinball or pong. With each step, attempt and risk they will go through the routine of do, review and amend until they come up with what works. Though it should be noted there is no easy undo function here and unlike a page of xml or html code you can not skim through and change the element that failed for you.
  • Rather than reaching for Brushes or another art app, why not use Creatorverse to make a more interactive piece, such as a tree shedding leaves.
  • There is a clear link with the forces element of the Key Stage 2 curriculum for science and I intend to make use of the app to help exemplify some of the points below

Key Stage 2
Programme of study: Science
Sc4 Physical processes; Forces and motion

  • 2b: that objects are pulled downwards because of the gravitational attraction between them and the Earth
  • 2c: about friction, including air resistance, as a force that slows moving objects and may prevent objects from starting to move
  • 2e: how to measure forces and identify the direction in which they act

Price and other things

Once you have built your creation you can share it in a global gallery, where you can also access and modify the work of others. This is a great feature as it gives you the opportunity to see what is possible and get your own work “liked” by others. At £2.99, you pay a bit more than the average app, but this is not an average app. I would love to hear how others are using this in school.

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