I know it might sound confusing — writing code for computers without computers? But it’s true! The thinking behind coding can be taught without computers!
Coding involves logical thinking that requires programmers to think of a certain program in terms of steps. For example, to get from Point A to Point B, I have to first walk straight, then turn right, ……
Many organizations have created great activities for students to learn this type of thinking. For example, CS Unplugged has many printables and activities like “Where is My Hat” to teach searching algorithms.
Hack4Change, a nonprofit association that aims to encourage more students to pursue computer science, put its own twist on unplugged activities. The Hack4Change team wanted to create a game that emphasized the sequential nature of programming. The Hack4Change team used 7×7 grids in Google slides to create a series of game boards with different paths from the start to the end. The game boards have different themes from a princess land to a sports field. The objective of the game is for students to figure out the way to move along the path from start to finish using the Scratch “move 1 forward”, “turn left 90 degrees”, and “turn right 90 degrees” blocks. The Hack4Change team also used Scratch to create online versions of the game boards so that children could see that the code they built would actually work on a computer.
Hack4Change launched this activity at the Kidzcon event in Los Angeles, CA on August 11th and 12th. This event was an optimal location for this activity as students would be spending 10–12 minutes at the Hack4Change booth — the time required to complete the game boards. The activity was a fast introduction to the logical thinking behind programming without the hassle of taking computers to the event. All the students who played the game absolutely loved it and many came back to try out more of our game boards!
Hack4Change will definitely be using these game boards in the future as a introductory activity in our programming workshops. Currently, these game boards are unavailable to public use, but we plan to put the game boards on our website in the near future so that anyone can print and use them.