We are working on computer science during this unit, and it directly corresponds to our NPDL Big Cat Project. In this unit, students will learn what an "algorithm", or process is and how to apply it to a problem. In this case, our problem is to help an animal meet its needs.
Students will use an algorithm, and later a computer "program" to help an animal find 1) food and 2) shelter. We are studying big cats in our class, and the program they design will create an animated movie to support their project.
The first step to learning how to code is to understand that they have to design a path, or an algorithm, for their animal to follow. In this lesson, we used a grid board, magnets, and dry erase markers to create that algorithm. Students were required to design it, then test it to see if it worked. They would test it by writing their code on a seperate piece of paper, erasing the steps in the grid, and using the code that they wrote to see if the process still worked. If it didn't, there was a "Bug in the System" and they had to try again. Take a look:
Placed animal, food and shelter on the grid.
They drew a path, with steps going through the food and shelter so that could pick them up.
Writing the code.
Testing the code.
Re-working the code.
On their forth try, and not giving up!
My students were AMAZING at this lesson. Our next step is to use a program called Scratch, Jr. to create an animated movie, using a code of their own design.