Saturday 14 February 2004 — This is more than 19 years old. Be careful.
I’ve volunteered to go talk to my son’s sixth grade class about writing software. I spoke with their computer teacher about what I do, including professional work, this site, and little projects I’ve done with and for my boys, notably simple game programs. The teacher had them think up questions ahead of time and mail them to me. The first was:
How do you make any wrestling games?
I’ve never made a wrestling game. Where to begin?
Save as SWF and pull them into Flash and off you go.
Make liberal use of #FF0000.
The API provided very basic things such as fire(), move(int steps), turn(int degrees) and with that you combine it as you liked.
Very intuitive, very easy and very effectfull.
So maybe you should write a wrestling game with pygame and provide a basic API that the students could fiddle with.
Another thing that comes to mind is Logo. Lots of kids have been exposed to it and it has the "immediate feedback" that kids love.
Start with "well, video games -- including wrestling video games -- are a kind of software".
And segue into whatever you want.
Assign two (or more) kids to be "programmers" to tell the blindfoleded kid how to wrestle by telling him how to move each limb. (Their limbs are object variables.)
Notice that they'll automatically break down the problem into subproblems and give names to frequently used routines. They'll use the word "with" to subclass those routines.
Now add another blindfoleded kid to be the "other wrestler" in the computer game.
I think they'll begin to get the idea what programming is.
They'll also see how programming in a team on the same, shared code base causes bugs.
When really confused allow the momentary removal of the blindfold (exception handling).
Remember, programming is mostly codes and ciphers.
For more ideas check out "Does Easy Do It? Children, Games and Learning" by Seymour Papert
For a Python 3D education app check out Alice from Carnegie Mellon University: here
I'd advise starting with an outline and three or four backup plans. Go with what works. They'll love you, brother.
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