I have done similar things in the past with kids based on seeing Seymour Papert videos where he has children pretending to be the "turtle" and the other children give the commands.
Besides being a lot of fun, I really think the kids learned a lot and got a feeling of success.
Here is a list of some of the things kids came up with:
- Created Looping techniques
- While walk
- Repeat 4 times: walk 2ft
- Came up with the idea of using coordinates to program the Robot (ex: goto 1,0 - an actual good use of goto :)
- Measured the whole path, drew models of the path with measurements and planned out everything on paper before writing the program
- Came up with various sensors (ex: sense Obstacle)
- Special thanks to those who improved the sensors and had me stop BEFORE I hit the wall!!!
- Used the idea of Homing Beacons
- Had two styles of programs one where you loaded all the instructions into the Robot, then the Robot followed the instructions. The other interactive where you guided the Robot with voice commands.
- Question, in the above two examples, where was the "intelligence?" In the programmer or in the program?
- Came up with the idea of functions or methods. Higher level commands (aka abstractions) to get a robot to do something (ex: walk = left foot forward, right foot forward).
- Not only did folks walk up the ladder of abstraction as in item 7, one of you walked down the ladder of abstraction and created more detailed command for left foot forward, explaining what each part of the leg had to do to "move left leg forward"
- Last but far from least, you made mistakes!!!! Woohoo!!! Yippeee!!! If you don't make mistakes, you are not learning. Of course that's only true if you learn from your mistakes. But the best is to learn from the mistakes of others, you don't have time to make them all yourself. Feel free to watch me for mistakes, I am a great teacher that way :)
General Techniques for facilitating learning:
Things I would do different next time.