In the first session I split the children into small mixed-ability groups and set them the task of ascertaining the functions of different key combinations using the blank template available on this Blog and in the resources supplied with the software. This was a useful exercise as the children took care to fill in the blanks rather than just pressing buttons randomly. At the end of the lesson I gave the children a completed template of key functions(same sources as previously) so they could check the accuracy of their findings. The children were very enthusiastic about using the Robosapiens and took turns to operate the Robosapien and record their results.
Sessions 4 and 5
Before session 4s and 5 I loaded the latest fix to the Robo-blaster software. I did get fewer problems with the software communicating via the Robo-blaster with the Robosapien but on some machines the programs ran very slowly or stopped during running(reasons unknown).
In session 4 the children explored loops and nested loops using the Repeat/Endrepeat commands. The higher ability children understood this readily but many of the middle and lower ability children struggled with the nested loops.
In session 5, which I did with a smaller group of higher ability children only, the children explored passing variables and using conditional statements. This session was successful in helping the children understand that different commands could be carried out depending on their interaction with the program in running.
In summary as a way of teaching simple programming:-
The plus features for structured programming are:-
- easy to understand 'Gridscript' programming language
- clear programming page with useful examples
- automatic indentation of the code by the software helps with iterations and loops
- Non-diagrammatic form of program coding can be difficult to understand for the middle to less able
- Problems with the interface between software, robo-blaster and robot