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What coding/programming activities for beginners?

Discussion in 'Programming & Software Development' started by Madengineer, Dec 8, 2016.

  1. Madengineer

    Madengineer Member

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    Hiya guys,

    Expanding some stuff with work, and I'm trialling some programming/coding type activities with a range of students.

    I'm looking at Scratch based activities (Using Sphero) and a few web based Java games that help expose them to the code in fun ways.

    Does anybody what else could be used?

    It's to compliment mathematical/engineering type work as well (which is why Sphero is being used).

    Thoughts?
     
  2. deepspring

    deepspring Member

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    I don't know much about the others, but a friend of mine who teaches children with ASD, usually recommends: "Swift Playgrounds". He also teaches with Spheros, but I can't remember what he uses for those.

    I'd probably skip the Web based Java Games, Java (and the JRE plugin) in the web browser is quickly going the way of dinosaur.
     
  3. nicholasporison

    nicholasporison Member

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    i think for a beginners, its important to do basic tasks like i remember when i started programming i spend alot of time in programming, i made basic calculator, tic tac toe, Excel & many more things to clear my concept on a beginner level
     
  4. philscomputerlab

    philscomputerlab Member

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    IMO you can't go wrong with Scratch in the educational space. It's a great way to learn the basics of sequence, selection and iteration.

    Scratch can be installed locally, there is a cloud version, a ton of existing resources. Scratch also comes with the most Pi type boards, which lets you interact with the outside world, and I believe there is a similar visual language for Arduino.

    If the students are ending up studying Computer Science General in Years 11 and 12 (so not ATAR), Scratch is also one of the recommended languages.

    If they are university bound, I would use Scratch as well as Python, or C on the Arduino.

    The gizmos that schools are buying, I've got somewhat mixed feelings, the whole STEM initiative is a bandwagon, plenty of people jumping on-board that think having an iPad makes them IT experts :D

    They are great for introduction, but you can get a lot more learning going without them. They can get in the way as you have to deal with the resources, break-downs, technology issues and so on. But it "impresses" the head honchos, because they can see something moving, whereas they can't relate to a normal program.

    But it's an exciting time no doubt, so enjoy the ride!
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
  5. OP
    OP
    Madengineer

    Madengineer Member

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    Yeah we have some Arduion boards, but they look overly complex for year 7/8 students, so I wasn't sure if I'd use them to introduce them. I'm currently looking at the 3 types of programming available through the Lightning Labs App (draw, drag & drop, and Oval (completely new and doing a bit of research on).

    And yeah, I've rolled out Scratch onto every school PC. lol At this stage, it's not in preparation for future study (which I think it should be). Right now it's more of a control group type thing.

    And yes, agree with you on the STEM comment. lol
    Thankfully my school doesn't have much of that.

    I've slowly been working my way around the school helping other teachers with various tasks. And I have the only class set of Ipads in the whole school :p

    Unfortunately with most of the tasks I'm setting you need a tablet. I was looking at setting up some VMs on a couple of PCs to play with Android VMs.



    Thanks for all the input though guys! I'm not sure if I'm willing to can Java (remember it's just going to be used to give them an idea of what you can do with coding).
     
  6. deepspring

    deepspring Member

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    If Arduino's appear overly complex, maybe Raspberry Pi's and their Python platform would be a better choice? just a thought.

    Edit: it's not that Java is a bad language in itself, but rather modern web browsers have either dropped support for the JRE plugin or are going to very soon, this would make delivering web based java applets just a little harder for the students (Yes I do know you can still execute them from the command line.)
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
  7. OP
    OP
    Madengineer

    Madengineer Member

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    Don't have the time to get one unfortunately :(

    What I do have is:
    2 Spheros (SPRK and a 2.0)
    1 Ollie
    Makey Makey
    Ozobot
    LittleBits (Educational tool)
     
  8. deepspring

    deepspring Member

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    Some of those gadgets look entirely tablet orientated, others like the Makey Makey and LittleBits look like they work with a computer.

    I'd just focus on Scratch, and once the kids get the hang of that, introduce them to Sphero SPRK or Ozobot (mainly because each of the devices languages similarity to Scratch) . If they get that far then teach them the LittleBits or the Makey Makey.
     
  9. Optimus.

    Optimus. Member

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    Powershell might be a no-cost option.

    It's 'programming lite' with some higher-level system/admin context.

    Get them to read some system stats, content from a website and output that along with their name etc in to an html file. Maybe embed a youtube video of a a song they like?
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Madengineer

    Madengineer Member

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    Sounds interesting. Will give it a look.

    Yesterday went pretty well, apart from stuffarounds with the ipads connecting to the wifi.

    Focused on Sphero/Ozobot/Scratch and the kids loved it!

    Some of the kids went from the normal Sphero coding (drag and drop like Scratch) to its own version of text coding (Oval).

    It's great that the program shows what the text code would be as well.
     
  11. Foliage

    Foliage Member

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    I would just stick with scratch.

    I've used PLC emulators for year 10 students and got them to build a traffic light system in ladder logic. Takes the typical geeky year 10 about a day to do. All the ones I know of aren't free but a lot of schools/unis can get free versions of RSLogix/RSEmulate from Rockwell or get a free copy of Unity from Schneider.

    The best part about this is they are using real software to build a real system. Not as user friendly as scratch but I've found even with only 1-2 hours of me tutoring them they can figure it out in about 8 hours.

    This is the old RSLogix 500 software that is outdated but still used everywhere.
    [​IMG]
     
  12. OP
    OP
    Madengineer

    Madengineer Member

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    Alright so this is beginning tomorrow, so should be interesting.

    To begin with, I'm going to do a very basic introduction to computing (Cause these kids know squat). And sorta going through the history of programming/coding (even looking at some binary).
     

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