Game Development, Test Plan and Test Design

September 26, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This week, as we continue working on Scratch, I am going to be teaching the students how to test code. Testing is often overlooked and thought of as boring and uncool. Programmers design and write code. Who likes editing? Though overlooked, it is very important to make sure that the code is solid and bug-free.

Today the students started designing a simple game on Scratch. I suggested Rock-Paper-Scissors, but they can choose any other game as long as it gets my approval. I have given them a sample Test Plan and a table to fill in test cases. By Wednesday they should have completed the game and finished designing the test plan and test cases. On Thursday the class will test each other’s software and execute the test plans. I am curious to see how their testing progresses.


Introducing the concept of variables using Scratch

September 22, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This week I introduced the concept of variables. Teaching variables in Scratch is very different from teaching variables using C++ or Java. I taught the concept that a variable holds data and that the values could be changed, but the similarities stopped there. I could not really talk about the different types of variables. Scratch, while limiting, is helpful in getting students to use variables in simple programs.

I gave the student two assignments: to design a sprite that draws a spiral and to do a Shape Robot Tutorial. The challenge went off well. A nice spin-off from this assignment was students designing different patterns using the “Pen” palette control.
For the rest of this week and for the early part of next week, students will be designing a game. I have suggested “rock-paper-scissors”, but they can do any game that is approved by me. They have to work on it alone and then create a plan on how to test their game. The test plan is a separate assignment. If all goes well on Wednesday, students should be testing each other’s games using the test plan/test cases provided to them.

Progress in Scratch

September 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It has been a fun week. Scratch certainly seems to excite the students into trying out various projects. The most popular projects were of course games. But other students ventured into other areas like stories, simulations etc.

The students level of knowledge in Scratch varied. There were students who had never seen Scratch and others who had done projects in different classes before coming taking this course.  I gave a quick tour of Scratch for the beginner students and this group worked on two different projects with rubrics provided. The experienced students worked on one big open-ended project which focused on creativity and originality.

We move on next week to explore how to use Scratch to create simulations in a area of Science. It should be interesting to see what kinds of ideas come in. I have yet to decide if I want to make this a pair programming project or just one person.  I am going to have them create a test plan and then have another person in the class execute the test plan.  Formal testing is a new concept. We will see how it progresses.

Game Flowchart Samples

September 12, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We will start Scratch next week.  Students seemed to enjoy developing flow charts for games, but I think working on some simple programming projects will be interesting too. Pseudocode is still hard for students. I will conduct a test on abstracting a simple problem using flowcharts and pseudocode next week. We will how the students perform.

Here are the links to some of the best flowcharts that were drawn.



Some students ventured into UMLs. Here is one for the game Life.  I was impressed. In general, students found it hard to conceptualize the system (in this case a game) into various interacting modules.

Abstracting a Board game

September 9, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This was a short week because of Labor Day. Initially, I thought I would get students started on Scratch using BYOB, Build Your Own Block. I decided to take advantage of the four-day week by touching on multiple levels of abstraction. This activity should hopefully get students thinking about their part of the semester long open-ended project. Students played board games in groups of three. We discussed the process of playing the game, making them think about writing pseduocode and drawing flowcharts. I walked around and observed the students as they argued their board games. Students chose many interesting games to work with such as LIFE, Chutes and Ladders, Monopoly and Checkers. By Friday they will have completed flowcharts, pseduocode and possibly a UML diagram for the highest level of abstraction.

Drawing flowcharts for simple abstract concepts

September 6, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Students developed flowcharts for various simple real-life situations like waking up to an alarm clock, going to the movies, going to eat at Wendy’s and software tech support for seniors. All students were required to have a clear start, a clear end, multiple decision boxes and at least on iteration. There could be multiple ends, but there could not be duplicate end points. Students were very enthusiastic and many found interesting tools online to build their flowcharts such as Lucid and Gliffy. Others used Microsoft Word.

Not all students have gotten the concept of flowcharts, but the majority made above a 90 and many got full marks for their assignment. I think almost all of them can wrap their heads around the concept of abstraction now. I am planning a simple test for the students. I will give them an abstract concept and have them write pseudocode and draw a flowchart for it.

We’re going to be moving on to Scratch with Berkeley ’s Build Your Own Blocks (BYOB) in a week.

Create a free website or blog at
Entries and comments feeds.