I have already had to make concessions to some of the activities in deference to the local context. While my district is rich in technology, it is constrained economically and access to material and expendable resources is limited. Activities such as the peanut butter sandwich, stacking cookies, and candy sorting must be replace with a non-consumable non-food approach. The challenge is replacing scripted activities with others that are similarly instructive AND engaging (entertaining) as the originals.
What hit me most about the TedX Talk was actually the incredible link to Big Data. I think that this will be a great foreshadowing of Unit 5, and I plan on emphasizing in class about how the presenter spoke about the “bots” listening to your phone call.
Instead of peanut butter, you can always use some kind of seed spread instead. My local walmart carries a cheap sunflower seed spread that will work well.
I may ask students to describe the process of putting on their gym uniform. I could bring in large pants and shirts to be placed over the student’s school clothing. I really like the TED video with algorithms used by NASA, I would like my students to view that video.
I plan on using this lesson almost as-is. I have one student who has seen the PBJ demo before, and he’s going to be my assistant. I plan on dressing he and I up in lab coats, goggles, and gloves so we can get super messy. I also have a classroom set of legos, so I would like to add an exercise where students try to recreate each other’s designs. That way they can try to create and follow directions without having to deal with the mess of the PBJs. I don’t mind cleaning up after myself, but I don’t want to have to do the whole room!
If any of my students has a peanut allergy, I will probably just do what we did in our summer meeting and substitute applesauce. As for something different to add, I would incorporate the Lightbot game from the hour of code and use pair programming.
There are a few things that come to mind… lego blocks to create a specific shape; origami paper; but I agree with the examples given by the others here like Cindy (the sushi rolls) or tacos…it might get really messy but kids enjoy it if they get to eat it after.
I had students to complete a survey and fortunately there are no students with peanut allergies. I will complete the activity as indicated.
I will have my students have them build a sub sandwich and chronicle the process they go through to arrive to school on a given day from when their alarm clock and/or parent/guardian awakes them until their school day ends.
the “peanut butter exercise” can be easily replaced with any number of algorithmical-style instructions, such as walking to the water fountain, making a measurement, or even a highly-detailed version of writing
I like the idea of using legos to build something. This could be a paired activity where one student gets the legos and the other student has to give them instructions to build something specific like a house or tower.
I’d provide instructions to find a specific class in the building and have student find it based on the idea of algorithms. We’d talk about how the instructions controlled your behavior and thinking when finding the classroom. Hence, algorithms are dictating how we think and react to information. Students will be encouraged to think how it affects their own actions. Discussions will be conducted and students will design algorithms based on specific goals.
An algorithm activity I often do is have the class (group activity) develop an algorithm to back a a car out of a garage. My students are all 11th or 12th graders who are either drivers themselves or have observed their parents drive a great deal.
I tell them to provide detail, but not ridiculously so. For example, “Put on clothes” or “Put on Shoes” may be important but are not relevant to our discussion.
We have to decide what assumptions are necessary. One is - Automatic or Standard transmission. Most of the time this is not discussed until it is time to start the car.
What I like about this example is that the algorithm designed will give you the opportunity to show that there are many steps which do not have to be done in a certain order, but may have to be performed sometime before some other step. It also provides the opportunity to have some types of steps that are decisions and some that are loops.
I think a cool option would be to give instructions on how to enter the subway - the only problem is that you couldn’t act it out in real life but it would be interesting to see what language they use (metrocard, ticket, pass, etc) to describe the exchange. Maybe each group could evaluate another group for accuracy and the ability of a computer to read these instructions.
Since our school district now has a policy forbidding us to bring food into the classroom, I won’t be using PB & J, but I have done an activity that someone else mentioned using Legos. Students pair up and sit back to back. One person gives directions for building the shape as the other tries to follow their directions. It is quite interesting to do and since the student doesn’t already know what the shape looks like, there is no “reading into” the directions as there would be in the PB & J example or the paper airplane. I find with those two the students are successful in making it because they already know how to do it.
I’ve enjoyed this lesson during the PD time. The group presented it very well and I cam imagine the amount of engagement in the classroom with the PB&J. There are some other ideas to teach following direction, The airplane paper, the origami, setting direction to any place inside or outside the classroom and much more. I like the lesson and I believe my students will love it too.
If there are peanut allergies, you may simply change the type of sandwich to ham and cheese or any other non-allergic-in-your -classroom case. The idea of legos is also very good, I have some and I will use them as well.
An additional idea, that will provide immediate positive feedback about programming can be to let the kids play one Hour of Code game such as: Code with Anna and Elsa or one my favorites: LightBot.
I tried a variation of this lesson where students wrote out instructions for tying a pair of shoes. Then in pairs they traded their instructions and tested them out. The activity worked students discovered the difficulty of writing proper instructions.
There are different ways give instructions. I like the peanut butter and jelly example although there are others such as to build something with legos. I plan to come up with a project that will allow students to understand algorithms such as the example with the different paper bag weights.
I would use it for student’s. What will be their likelyhood for educational success and what career field should they be in. What classes will they do well in and which classes should they take. How would you write the algorithm for this program.
I like the ideas below about using food, but we will be doing this class in a computer lab so I think using cups or some building block to have students crate a structure my work better. I also like the examples for giving driving instructions. We have international students at our school and I feel the communication between students could be very lively.