Thursday, 4 December 2014

CodeClub: TWSU DIY Gamer Week 11

The advantage of having one pupil who is slightly ahead of the others is that they provide an early warning of potential problems in the next part of the project. So I knew that there were a couple of 'gotchas' in the instructions for Lesson 8 - Button Press.

The first one is that one particular section asks you delete a big swathe of code from the existing project. The worksheet says to delete the code highlighted in red. Unfortunately it isn't actually highlighted, its just in a red font, as is a lot of the other Arduino sketch code shown in the examples. This includes the void loop() line immediately above the block of code to be deleted. Very confusing!

It also raises a good point about the worksheets. Not every one will be able to print/photocopy multiple copies in colour. Certainly the main copier at my school is B&W.

The actual code that is used in the session is fairly minimal and most of the groups got through it in plenty of time. It certainly feels a lot skinnier that the previous sessions and is really just coding by numbers. The challenge at the end didn't make much sense either, it asked "can you think of a way to use another for loop?' But the code used for this part of the project doesn't include a for loop - that was the bit that was deleted. I'm not really sure what the children were supposed to do here.

As we're approaching the end of this project and the end of term, I was asking the children what they'd like to do next year in CodeClub. The unanimous answer: MORE SOLDERING!

Things to do differently next time?

As usual there was quite a lot of debugging needed. The children are certainly learning how unforgiving the Arduino sketch language is! Finding the error can be quite hard even for me. To be honest, the children really don't have enough experience to have much of a chance of correctly the interpreting the error messages. This means their efforts largely centre around spotting the difference between their code and the sample at the back of the worksheet. I think this discourages them from ever attempting to try their own modifications so I might omit the cheat-sheets from the handouts next time.

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