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Calculators are pocket computers. That's one of the tenets underlying the calculator enthusiast community, where we enjoy pushing the limits of graphing calculators to write complex games, utilities, and programs. It follows that graphing calculators are a perfect platform on which to learn to program. Indeed, many of Cemetech's administrators are professional engineers, scientists, and academics who learned to love STEM subjects after experimenting with programming their graphing calculators. We at Cemetech want that proud tradition to continue for decades to come, as STEM skills become ever-more-important in wide swathes of jobs and hobbies. A great way to inspire people to get down and dirty with anything is to challenge them to compete, and motivate them with great prizes.

Cemetech has held nine programming competitions to date, the most recent of which challenged entrants to port popular computer programs to calculators or to modify existing programs to add new features. That contest offered fame and prestige as prizes; for this contest, we have four brand-new TI calculators as prizes, plus some smaller secret prizes that will be sent with the calculators. The topic of Cemetech Contest #10 is educational Physics programs. The rules are very simple:
  • Write a program or game that teaches concrete physics skills, such as equations and problem solving. Make it as educational or game-like as you want, as long as it teaches specific physics skills.
  • Your program may fall into one or both of two areas: (1) particle forces (like particles in magnetic/electric fields, or planets and orbits) or (2) projectile motion. Any program not falling into at least one of those categories will be disqualified. Post in the attached topic with any questions.
  • Programs must be in TI-BASIC, Axe, or ASM. All programs will be tested on a TI-84 Plus Silver Edition running under Doors CS 7.2, so any libraries offered by Doors CS 7.2 may be used.
  • Contestants may not release any code or binaries before the end of the contest, including asking for programming help publicly or privately. Violators will be disqualified.
  • The contest will run for 8 weeks, ending August 7th, 2013, at 11:59:59pm Eastern Time. No late entries will be accepted.
  • All contestants must maintain a topic in the Contests subforum on Cemetech, including a first post that mentions the name, programming language, and topic of the entry.
  • Judging will be performed by the Cemetech administrators (all of whom are disqualified from entering). Results will be posted no later than one week after the end of the contest.
  • A grading rubric will be released very soon. Entries will be graded primarily on their educational value, polish, and appeal to students. Although the focus is on education rather than gaming, educational games are allowed as long as they teach concrete physics.
I'm sure you want to hear more about the prizes. We are very proud to offer not two, not three, but four brand-new calculators. The grand prize winner will be awarded one TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition, one TI-Nspire CX CAS, and additional secret prizes. The second and third place winner will each be awarded one TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition and additional secret prizes. The TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition is TI's brand-new color-screen TI-84 Plus-series calculator, and if you don't already have one, this is a great opportunity to try out its new math features and of course write new color programs and games. The TI-Nspire CX CAS is aimed at older high school and college students who need the power of a symbolic CAS, and if you win one, you'll also have an opportunity to practice your Lua skills. All participants will earn Cemetech flair in the form of signature bars and respect.

So what are you waiting for? Getting coding, inspire students to use calculator for more than math, and win some calculators!

Posted my topic for the contest. By the way, is one of the secret prizes a copy of your (signed?) new/old book? Or are they just secret because you haven't thought of them yet? Razz
Spenceboy98 wrote:
Posted my topic for the contest. By the way, is one of the secret prizes a copy of your (signed?) new/old book? Or are they just secret because you haven't thought of them yet? Razz
Several of them are secret because we don't want to reveal them. Others are secret because I haven't decided how many and which of my signed books ("Using" and/or "Programming") to use as prizes, if any. Smile And congratulations on being the first person to post up their contest topic with a solid idea! I hope many more follow your lead.
The mystery things look like empty boxes. *gasp* Perhaps the additional prize will BE the boxes you receive your prizes in.
ordelore wrote:
The mystery things look like empty boxes. *gasp* Perhaps the additional prize will BE the boxes you receive your prizes in.
Clever, but no, they're real prizes. Just a reminder to everyone who expressed interest and excitement on IRC: don't forget to register your participation on the forum by at least making a topic about your entry, and possibly also by posting in this topic.
ordelore wrote:
The mystery things look like empty boxes. *gasp* Perhaps the additional prize will BE the boxes you receive your prizes in.


One of the boxes for 1st place could very well be empty, or hold a brick. Since he'd be getting two, I might just keep the contents and leave a dead weight in the box so no one is the wiser Evil or Very Mad

Until, you know, it's opened.
How exactly do you turn in the finished product? I've never been part of a Cemetech contest before...
You e-mail it to contests@domain, remember to replace domain with the domain for Cemetech! (cemetech.net).

I know we don't have the grading rubric created, but you won't have points docked if you have a well-written read-me (as in, read-me's are scored/graded).
What is exactly meant by "concrete physics skills"? Would a game like tanks/obliteration qualify as teaching physics skills, eg teaching concepts? Or does it need to directly involve formulas/equations?
I think educational games will be regarded strictly, as they are the easy way out, so don't think, "since it kinda involves physics, I can enter it.". I think it would be better to have a detailed explanation on why it includes physics.
Is C an acceptable substitute for asm as you can compile to assembly and go from there? I don't really have time to learn a new language though I would love to participate.
ruler501 wrote:
Is C an acceptable substitute for asm as you can compile to assembly and go from there? I don't really have time to learn a new language though I would love to participate.
If you can use SDCC to compile a reasonable C programs to ASM and run it under Doors CS, more power to you! Elfprince13 has even Worked on making that possible.

SquidgetX: Simply having a game with good physics is not enough. The program (or game, I suppose) has to teach physics equations and concepts, though it can also contain entertaining components. We're trying to make this contest not about games, although we understand that a lot of community programmers prefer to write games. One of the goals of the contest, frankly, is showing off the value of programming calculators as a way of enhancing their educational value.
Kerm I'm still lost on this educational/teaching criteria.

Some games (like obliteration or angry birds perhaps) rely on having a good understanding of physics concepts to play well. As the player progresses, he/she will more fully grasp some of the subtleties of gravity and projectile motion, etc. However, the player will never see a formula or equations. He/she will come away from the game (perhaps) simply knowing that projectiles fly in parabolas and that all objects accelerate at the same rate or something similar. Conceptually, they may have learned something, but as far as demonstrating how programming calculators can be educational it doesn't seem to me that this qualifies. Do you agree/disagree? Say a program/game really involves the numbers, such that the player would feel like he/she needs a pen paper and second calculator. Or even a game where the player would have an advantage with a pen/paper. Would this be discouraged or encouraged?

"Teaching physics skills" just seems vague. I guess what I'm asking is if games simply based on physics mechanics (again, scorched earth or perhaps a puzzle game involving particle physics) would be accepted, and how that would affect the scoring. Is that what you mean by "a game with good physics?" I feel like acelgoyobis or gravity guy are "games with good physics" but I feel like there's a discernible difference between those and games like angry birds or scorched earth in terms of "teaching physics skills."

I know I'm talking a lot about games here but it's the easiest way to ask questions I guess. I suppose there are just a few tiers of how educational a game might be and I'm not sure which one you're talking about. Let me try some examples

Tier 0. Acelgoyobis - good physics engine but the player's understanding of physics doesn't really affect gameplay. Player doesn't really learn physics even though game "has good physics"
Tier 1. Scorched Earth. Player needs to estimate with angle, power, wind, etc to do well. Player learns some conceptual physics while playing. Or a particle physics puzzle game. Player learns about gravity, electric fields while maneuvering a particle to a certain destination, for example. But doesn't see formulas.
Tier 2. Scorched Earth with explicit distance angle velocity measures, player has limited number of shots per "level." In this example the player would do much better if he/she worked out solutions via pen and paper and has the potential to learn and expand on physics skills using equations, etc.
Tier 3.Something even more directly educational. Example 2 has the potential but isn't outright pedantic.

What level are we talking about?

edit: looking at the current topic threads now, most seem to fall into 3+.
I dunno, I'm actually not disappointed with the contest anymore -- I was thinking it would be a purely "drop a ball and watch it bounce simulator" type of contest, and now it's starting to look better. Then again, I'm not sure I'm gonna participate anyways -- I have a busy summer and already have an idea of the game I want to work on (that doesn't meet contest criteria)
SquidgetX: Yes, one of the key things to understand about this contest is that it's not meant as a games contest. I know that a lot of our current programmers (especially the Omnimaga/Axe crowd) tend to only write games, so we're (reluctantly) allowing educational games. However, even if you are making an educational game, you need concrete equations that the user needs to understand and solve in order to play the game. It's not enough to just make a physics game at all. And if you make an educational non-game that's still fun, then all the better. I was thinking about the problem of using a pen and paper or a second calculator, and we definitely want programs to require that kind of thought.

Ashbad: I'm glad to hear you're no longer disappointed with the topic. I hope that you enter.
Btw is cross-posting project updates on multiple websites against the rules? I know that during the last few years it was fine (as long as they primarily post their projects in the contest sub-forum here), but for the 2011 United-TI contest, no entry discussion was allowed on any other forum.
DJ_O wrote:
Btw is cross-posting project updates on multiple websites against the rules? I know that during the last few years it was fine, but the 2011 United-TI contest didn't allow it.
Cross posting is fine with us, under the condition that you keep your Cemetech topic up-to-date with project updates. Part of the goal of the contest (as with any site's contests) is to raise awareness of Cemetech as well as to promote good project habits. Keeping an up-to-date progress log and encouraging feedback is a good habit, I believe. And our rubric will definitely have a few points earned by keeping a good project topic.
Thanks for the info. I think that people should at least post every single update that they plan to post online here and preferably not hide completely for the entire duration of the contest. I know that certain people (particularly the European TI-Nspire crowd) are not as much into forums, but at least posting some updates keeps some life on the forums and it won't seem like nobody is participating. As for the cross-posting, what I notice normally is that almost everyone mentions "Cemetech Contest" inside the topic title, which could actually attract more participants (and members).
KermMartian wrote:
I was thinking about the problem of using a pen and paper or a second calculator, and we definitely want programs to require that kind of thought.

That's definitely a departure from many games. And obviously writing a textbook physics problem generator is not a fun way to respond to that want Rolling Eyes.
It inspires a question, however--What sort of difficulty is desired? Will each program be judged in its own context? For a specific example: If solving the problems the program poses requires doing integral calculus, is that acceptable?
That actually brings up a question I had. What is an acceptable assumption of prior knowledge? Can we require calculus or should we be trying to use more simple formulas/physics?
  
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