Bright Ideas recently came across this gaming program for students in years 9 -11 developed by Swinburne University of Technology. From their website comes the following information:

VBugs homepage
VBugs homepage

VBugs – Games Programming using VB.Net and SwinGame

Click here to access the online form.

     What is VBugs?

VBugs is a resource for creating a game using the SwinGame Software Development Kit (SDK) and VB.NET.  Its aim is to teach students the steps involved in programming in a fun but non-superficial manner.

What is in the resource?

The downloaded resource has a teacher and a student folder. The student resource consists of self paced tutorials with exercise sheets for the student to fill in by hand as they progress. The exercise sheets have been designed as a way of assessing student knowledge and understanding of the topic as they progress.  The teacher folder contains solutions to both the worksheets and the project chapter by chapter as well as lesson plans for using VBugs in class.

Who is it suitable for?

The resource is suitable for students from Year 9 – 11. The resource takes students through the very basics of games programming through to the development of a fully interactive game with levels, scores, music, sound effects, keyboard and mouse input and animated sprites. Students who are keen and progress well, can go on to develop another SwinGame and can enter in the SwinGame 09 competition. This competition is to open to all secondary school students in Australia. Visit the SwinGame 09 website for more details.

How much does it cost?

No charge. As part of Swinburne’s effort to support secondary schools and enhance the profile of ICT, this resource has been developed for all secondary schools to use for free. Simply register (see below) and we will send you the password and the link to download the resource in full. Along with this link we can send out a hard copy of the book for the teacher’s reference.

How long does it take to complete?

This will depend on your class to some extent. VBugs has 9 chapters. Some chapters would take approximately 1 period to complete and others about 3. The final chapter is open ended so if some students finish faster than others they can keep working on improving their game for as long as you like. We recommend allowing about 16 classes. A run down of the chapters can be found below:

  • Chapter 1 – Hello World               
  • Chapter 2 – Images, Fonts and Colours 
  • Chapter 3 – Movement 
  • Chapter 4 – Sound and Keyboard  
  • Chapter 5 – Mouse input and Animation
  • Chapter 6 – Methods in VB.NET
  • Chapter 7 – Objects and Classes
  • Chapter 8 – Level and Score
  • Chapter 9 – Extensions and Additions    

How to request the VBug resources?

Click here to access the online form.

After filling out the form, you will be emailed a username and password to access VBugs.


Looking for a fantastic free animation development site? Scratch just might be what you are after! Developed by a team at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Scratch is designed to be used by educators.

Scratch homepage
Scratch homepage

According to the Scratch website

Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web.

Scratch is designed to help young people (ages 8 and up) develop 21st century learning skills. As they create and share Scratch projects, young people learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively. Scratch is available free of charge: go to Download.

As Scratch is aimed primarily at children (8-16 years), there is a raft of information for educators:

 Scratch is designed with learning and education in mind.

As young people create projects in Scratch, they learn many of the 21st century skills that will be critical to success in the future: thinking creatively, communicating clearly, analyzing systematically, using technologies fluently, collaborating effectively, designing iteratively, learning continuously.

Scratch can used in many different settings: schools, museums, community centers, and homes. It is intended especially for 8- to 16-year-olds, but younger children can work on Scratch projects with their parents or older siblings, and college students use Scratch in some introductory computer science classes.

There are a variety of resources that can be helpful in introducing Scratch.

See Scratch Videos for videos on how to use and to introduce Scratch

The Getting Started Guide offers a step-by-step introduction to Scratch

Scratch Cards offer a fun way to learn Scratch code you can use in projects

The Scratch 1.3 Reference Guide is a manual that explains the Scratch software

The Translation page lists resources in Spanish and many other languages

Different people get started with Scratch in different ways. Some like to tinker with various blocks to see what they do. Others like to experiment with the sample projects that come with Scratch, and then make changes to the scripts. As an initial activity, we often encourage people to create a project using the letters in their name.

To learn more about the educational ideas underlying Scratch, please see:

One-Page Handouts
Learning with Scratch | Creating with Scratch | Programming with Scratch

Programming Concepts in Scratch 1.3

Scratch education case study from the National Center for Women and Information Technology

Scratch and 21st Century Skills

Sowing the Seeds for a More Creative Society

Rethinking Learning in the Digital Age

Technological Fluency

Learning by Designing

Research papers about Scratch

Scratch Educator Online Forums

Visit the Educators forum to discuss ideas with other educators using Scratch

New! Visit the Scratch Classroom 2.0 wiki

As you can see, Scratch has excellent resources for educators and as Scratch is available in many languages, LOTE classes are well catered for. The terms and conditions  of Scratch explain that the site is open to any age and users are encouraged to flag inappropriate content.

The best part about Scratch is that you and your students can download the program for free, without even registering on the Scratch website. That means that your students can keep all animations completely private if you wish and only upload the animations to the Scratch website if they really want to share their work with the world.

Stay tuned for another animation tool shortly.