Students will take a sequence of events or steps for some process and create an algorithm. This could apply to any content area. They will display the algorithm in flowchart form. This activity can be modified for all grade levels and content areas.
In this lesson students get practice making decisions with data based on some problems designed to be familiar to middle school students. Students work in groups discussing how they would use the data presented to make a decision before the class discusses their final choices. Not all questions have right answers and in some cases students can and should decide that they should collect more data. The lesson concludes with a discussion of how different people could draw different conclusions from the same data, or how collecting different data might have affected the decisions they made.
In the first lesson of the data unit, students get an overview of what data is and how it is used to solve problems. Students start off with a brief discussion to come to a common understanding of data. They then split into groups and use a data set to make a series of meal recommendations for people with various criteria. Each group has the choices of meal represented in a different way (pictures, recipes, menu, nutrition) that gives an advantage for one of the recommendations. Afterwards, groups compare their responses and discuss how the different representations of the meal data affected how the students were able to solve the different problems.
In this lesson students create their own system for representing information. They begin by brainstorming all the different systems they already use to represent yes-no responses. They then work in small groups to create a system that can represent any letter in the alphabet using only a single stack of cards. The cards used have one of 6 different possible drawings (6 animals, 6 colors, etc.) and so to represent the entire alphabet students will need to use patterns of multiple cards to represent each letter. Students create messages with their systems and exchange with other groups to ensure the system worked as intended. In the wrap-up discussion the class reviews any pros and cons of the different systems. They discuss commonalities between working systems and recognize that there are many possible solutions to this problem and what's important is that everyone use the same arbitrary system to communicate.
In this lesson students learn to use their first binary system for encoding information, the ASCII system for representing letters and other characters. At the beginning of the lesson the teacher introduces the fact that computers must represent information using either "on" or "off". Then students are introduced to the ASCII system for representing text using binary symbols. Students practice using this system before encoding their own message using ASCII. At the end of the lesson a debrief conversation helps synthesize the key learning objectives of the activity.
In this lesson, students use all three types of binary representation systems (ASCII characters, binary number, and images) to decode information in a record. After seeing a series of bits and being asked to decode them, students are introduced to the idea that in order to understand binary information, they must understand both the system that is being used and the meaning of the information encoded. They then decode a record representing a pet based on a given structure.
In this lesson students design a structure to represent their perfect day using the binary representation systems they've learned in this chapter. Students will first write a short description of their perfect day and then review with a partner to identify the key pieces of information they think a computer could capture. As a class students will decide how a punch card of bytes of information will be interpreted to represent those pieces of information. Students will then use the ASCII, binary number, and image formats they have learned to represent their perfect days. Students then trade punch cards and try to decode what the other student's perfect day is like. The lesson ends with a reflection.
In this lesson, students use the problem solving process from earlier in the course to solve a data problem. After reviewing the process, the class is presented with a decision: whether a city should build a library, pet shelter, or fire department. Students work in teams to collect information on the Internet to help them decide what should be built, then use this information build an argument that will convince the city council of their choice. They then map what they have done to the problem solving process that they have been using throughout the course, comparing the general problem solving process to its specific application to data problems.
In this lesson, students are introduced to boolean values and logic, as well as conditional statements. The class starts by playing a simple game of Stand Up, Sit Down in which the boolean (true/false) statements describe personal properties (hair or eye color, clothing type, age, etc). This gets students thinking about how they can frame a property with multiple potential values (such as age) with a binary question.
From there students are provided a group of objects with similar, yet varying, physical properties. With a partner they group those objects based on increasingly complex boolean statements, including compound booleans with AND and OR.
Finally we reveal Conditionals as a tool to make decisions or impact the flow of a program using boolean statements as input.
Students are asked to consider the "problems" of boredom and self expression, and to reflect on how they approach those problems in their own lives. From there, students will explore how Computer Science in general, and programming specifically, plays a role in either a specific form of entertainment or as a vehicle for self expression.
Students explore the challenges of communicating how to draw with shapes and use a tool that introduces how this problem is approached in Game Lab. The warm up activity quickly demonstrates the challenges of communicating position without some shared reference point. In the main activity students explore a Game Lab tool that allows students to interactively place shapes on Game Lab's 400 by 400 grid. They then take turns instructing a partner how to draw a hidden image using this tool, accounting for many challenges students will encounter when programming in Game Lab. Students optionally create their own image to communicate before a debrief discussion.
Students explore the underlying behavior of variables through an unplugged activity. Using notecards and string to simulate variables within a program, students implement a few short programs. Once comfortable with this syntax, students use the same process with sprite properties, tracking a sprite's progress across the screen.
To kick off the final unit of this course, students will do some research into interesting innovations in computing. This lesson will expose students to wider variety of computing form factors (what a computer looks like) and fields that are impacted by computing. Later in this unit students will look back on the devices they encountered in this lesson as they develop their own physical computing devices.
In preparation for delving deeper into programming with App Lab, students will explore how a handful of different programs written in both Game Lab and App Lab handle taking input from the user. After comparing and contrasting the approaches they saw in the example apps, students group up to act out the two different models for input (conditionals in an infinite loop and asynchronous events) to gain a better understanding of how they work.
In this lesson, students work in groups to design aluminum foil boats that will support as many pennies as possible. Groups have two rounds to work on their boats, with the goal of trying to hold more pennies than they did in round 1. The structure of the activity foreshadows different steps of the problem solving process that students will be introduced to in more detail in the following lesson. At the end of the lesson students reflect on their experiences with the activity and make connections to the types of problem solving they will be doing for the rest of the course.
This lesson introduces the formal problem solving process that students will use over the course of the year, Define - Prepare - Try - Reflect. The lesson begins by asking students to brainstorm all the different types of problems that they encounter in everyday life. Students are then shown the four steps of the problem solving process and work together to relate these abstract steps to their actual experiences solving problems. First students relate these steps to the aluminum boats problem from the previous lesson, then a problem they are good at solving, then a problem they want to improve at solving. At the end of the lesson the class collects a list of generally useful strategies for each step of the process to put on posters that will be used throughout the unit and year.
In this lesson students apply the problem solving process to three different problems in order to better understand the value of each step. They will solve a word search, arrange seating for a birthday party, and plan a trip. The problems grow increasingly complex and poorly defined to highlight how the problem solving process is particularly helpful when tackling these types of problems. The lesson concludes with students reflecting on their experience with the problem solving process. They will justify the inclusion of each step and will brainstorm questions or strategies that can help them better define open-ended problems, as this is often the most critical step.
This lesson will likely take two class periods or more to complete. The first two problems may fit into a single class period but the third will need to be moved to a second day.
In this lesson students develop a preliminary definition of a computer. To begin the lesson, the class will brainstorm possible definitions for a computer and place the results of this brainstorm on the board. Next, students will work in groups to sort pictures into “is a computer” or “is not a computer” on poster paper. Groups will place their posters around the room and briefly explain their motivations for choosing some of their most difficult categorizations. The teacher will then introduce a definition of the computer and allow students to revise their posters according to the new definition.
Students complete two unplugged card sorting activities to explore the meaning of processing and its relationship to problem-solving. The first activity has few constraints and is used to introduce a high-level definition of processing. The next introduces more constraints that force students to develop an algorithm that will always successfully process the cards. Students iteratively develop, test, and share their algorithms with classmates. A wrap-up discussion has students reflect on the different types of problem-solving they used in these activities and the value of producing an algorithm to solve a problem.