I am bummed. Three of my eight Mindstorms bricks have no screen. After a bit of Googling there appears to be an issue with some little capacitors in the bricks. I have a local electronics guy trying to fix them. So it is back to Small Basic and drawing houses with my Programming I class. Drawing houses in Small Basic does not sound like much of a project but I can hit many of the programming basics in the project. For loops and sub procedures are the first things to be hit. I can also talk about objects, methods and events. The biggest learning objective is the logic required in planning the house. Very rarely do I get a kid wanting to make something simple. They all start competing to build the coolest looking house with trees, fences and pets. This all takes thought and planning. I get a lot of “Can I do this…?” and my reply is usually “Probably. Look in the documentation and tell me.” I have found over the years that if I give the kids a project like this they will take it places I would never dream of. I do not do a lot of lecturing in my programming classes. It has a tendency to put the kids to sleep. Not that my lectures aren’t brilliant and exciting, it is the fact that programming lectures have a built in “When is he going to shut up and let me try things?” factor.
Yesterday I introduced the idea of sub procedures and braking the program into functional modules. They had already been working on their houses for a day and a half so most of the kids had a pretty reasonable house built. The first comment I get is “Can I redo my house?”, and not “Do I have to redo my house?”
Typically I start Programming I with Scratch but this year I have a bunch of ambitious sophomore and junior boys (no girls this time) who are really into it. I will come back to Scratch later with the Kinect. I want to see what they can dream up.