Basic introduction to programming using Light-Bot
Begin the lesson by having the students attempt to solve one or two light-bot puzzles, depending on one of the three options below.
- If computers are available, have students go to the light-bot website, and complete the first 2 levels on the game.
- If students have their own iOS or Android smartphones or tablets with access to the respective app store, students can download the light-bot app to complete the first 2 levels. The lite version of this app is free.
- If there is only a teacher computer and projector, the teacher should project the second light-bot level on the board and ask students to write down what instructions they should give to the robot to light the square. Note that the teacher will also need to give students a basic overview of what the different commands do (straight arrow, right turn, left turn, light). Ask for two or three students to share their proposed solutions and try them.
After completing the puzzle(s), let students know that they just created a program. Share with them a definition of a program: a set of instructions to perform a particular action.
2 Direct Instruction
Introduce and show the Ted-Ed video: Inside Your Computer (Bettina Bair).
- Ask students to name some words they heard frequently throughout the video. If no student says the word instructions, mention that it was repeated numerous times. Repeat the definition of program from the hook.
- Explain that when they chose the sequence of steps for the robot to complete the task, they were programming the robot by giving it instructions.
- If necessary, revist the first two light-bot examples, showing possible correct solutions to the puzzles.
- Emphasize that there are often multiple ways to achieve the same task. If you ask two different programmers to write a program to accomplish a certain task, it is highly unlikely that their code will be identical.
3 Guided Practice
Students will work in teams of 2 to create 2D diagrams of their own light-bot challenges in Google Presentation.
- Teams can use the shapes feature in Google Presentation to create squares for the grid. They can use different colors to represent barriers or obstacles (and squares to be lit).
- Once completed, the teams share their 2D challenges with the teacher and members of 2 other teams. Teams will create solutions to the other teams' challenges. When sharing, students should give the other teams permission to comment, but not edit, to prevent them from modifying their puzzles. These solutions can either be written on paper or using the comments feature in Google Drive.
4 Independent Practice
Students can continue playing light-bot individually (this requires a computer or mobile iOS/Android device for each student). Students to should try to get to the procedures set of light-bot challenges.
Recap the lesson.
- Review the initial definition of a program (a set of instructions to perform a particular action).
- Highlight the set of light-bot challenges that includes procedures. Emphasize that procedures make doing repeated tasks easier. A follow-up lesson can go into more depth about procedures.
- Present a light-bot challenge (ideally from the procedures set of challenges) and ask for students to write down the steps to complete the action on index cards (exit slips).