Dead NXT bricks – bummer

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.

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