Making an Abstract model of Lightbots

August 25, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
We started Abstraction by trying to define what it is. While it was hard for the students to define it, they had plenty of examples!  Many compared it to Abstract art. I explained that in order to find a solution to a problem or to simulate an existing environment we first have to create an abstract model.
For the first step in teaching them abstraction I decided we would do a little reverse engineering. Students will work in pairs on taking a known program like Lightbots and create an abstraction. They will do this in two steps. First I asked them to write down the steps to creating a program like this. Then I told them that based on these steps many will later be able to write a program for this, introducing the concept of an algorithm without even mentioning the word. It took some effort for the students to not write instructions on how to use the program and to rethink the problem from a programmer’s perspective. I plan on using the word, abstraction, everyday so that they can get used to it and will start thinking what the word could actually mean with respect to computer science.
 Tomorrow, I am going to have students draw flowcharts for this problem. If Lightbots is too complicated, I might change the problem. We will see…

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