This Week At STEAM: Week 4 Coding Week Block 1 2017/18

This week was Coding week!  The students went through a variety of activities, both high tech and low tech, that helped them learn the basics about coding.

The day started with an Design Challenge.  In this activity, the students had to create an app for a mobile device.  The app had to assist users with teamwork.  They had to come up with three different features for the app.  Some of the features included chat functions, cooperative gaming, or being able to collaborate on work.  Some groups named their app and even came up with a trademarked logo!

Next, the students learned about the Cartesian Plane.  They learned how to read X and Y coordinates and the different quadrants.  Using this learning, the students had to “code” Mr. Paintin around the room to pick up, return, and put down a stress apple.  They had to do this in fewest lines of code.  They could choose from MoveX(+ or -), MoveY(+ or -), Turn (90, 180, 270 or 360 degrees, right or left), PickUp and PutDown, and MoveTo.  We didn’t talk about the MoveTo command to see if any groups could come up with the command MoveTo(X,Y).  A couple groups got it!  This coordinate system plays a big role later on in Coding in Minecraft.

Following the pseudocode activity, the students made toast!  We went through a flowchart of making toast: obtaining bread, obtaining a toaster, repeatedly checking power sockets, and describing the properties of toast.  This introduced the students to coding terms such as Conditional Statements, Procedures, Loops, and Parameters.

After lunch, the students used Hopscotch to create a “feather”.  First, they followed along to get the basics of the app, then had to try and replicate the code that Mr. Paintin added.  Figuring out what code to use was the easy part.  What challenged their computational thinking was identifying what the actual task was.  In this case, it was to make a series of drawings repeat.

After Hopscotch, the students could then explore a variety of coding activities.  The activities ranged from fairly simple to complex.  Using ScratchJr, the students had to figure out how to make two Sprites interact.  Continuing in Hopscotch, they had to expand on their Feather such as adding sounds or other objects.  In Swift Playgrounds, the students could follow along with the coding challenges and see how far they could progress (toughest part for grades4-6: reading….the…instructions…first).  The students could also choose to program a Lego Robot or BB8 to successfully navigate a geometric shape taped to the floor.  Could they use their prior knowledge and include a Loop to reduce the amount of code?  In Minecraft Code Connection the students had to create a house using code only…no placing the blocks!  The students had to refer back to the coordinate system to place the blocks in the world, except this time the challenge increased by adding the Z-axis!  Lastly, students could use Cospaces to create a virtual world and tell a story by coding the characters.  The characters could be made to talk, walk, or animate.

As usual the students completed their reflections.  The reflections were done using the new Activities feature in Seesaw.  Next week is Gaming Week!

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