Fantastic Week!

This was a week that reminded me of why I teach.  And why I teach computer science.  My CS I students started the week very confused by functions.  Then I handed out robots.  Now they are beside themselves with delight and possibility.  They’ve named their robots George and Percy and Harold.  They asked if they can play with them at home.  Do extra work? Sure!

Meanwhile, my physical computing students are exploring 3D printing.  We successfully printed a box and a cake, and we’re now working on printing a mini-version of one of the students.  Wednesday’s class, everyone was doing their own thing, but everyone was working.  I documented it in pictures here.

In 7th and 8th grade, students are working on Choose Your Own Adventure Stories in two different environments, Python and Calico Jigsaw.  They’ve actually got the logic figured out.  I saw some crazy nested if statements, and I saw some students going over the logic to make sure everything was right.  Just fantastic!  Also, as I was going over something else yesterday in 7th grade, I asked, “Who can tell what I have when something is in quotes.”  One student enthusiastically raised her hand and said, “A string!”  7th graders who know what strings are is a good thing in my book.

Also, we had robotics yesterday with a packed classroom of students, some of whom I wouldn’t expect to be there.  While they probably only worked on robotics for 30 mins, they still seemed excited. And today, I’m talking to the Academic Committee of the Board about our computing curriculum and ways to expand it.  It’s really an exciting time to be a Computer Science teacher.

2 Replies to “Fantastic Week!”

  1. Now, at 38 years old, for the first time I can follow the details of your post. I’m taking a Python class–pretty much my first programming class after my failed attempt at an atrocious C++ class in grad school where I learned nothing. It’s still not coming easily, though. Is there any research on whether learning programming languages when you’re still young leads to better outcomes than beginning when you’re older? (It would be hard to control this study, but maybe it’s been done and someone found the right populations.) My mom was a programmer and my dad an electrical engineer–you’d think I’d have more aptitude than I do.

  2. Funny, I learned fairly late in life as well. I had a couple of classes in college in BASIC, but they didn’t really stick. At my previous job, I used mostly PHP and Javascript and built almost nothing from scratch. Instead I edited existing code. What helped me, weirdly, was starting with Scratch, a programming language for kids. Once I had the basic logic down, learning Python was easy. I also like the Heads Up books; there’s one specifically for Python. I think adults, myself included, tend to want be doing complicated things fairly quickly while kids are willing to go through the easy stuff first. I don’t know if there’s any research to back that up, but that’s my working theory. 🙂

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