Generating Art: Creating a Shape Calculator in Scratch
Helping students understand the importance and relevance of calculating the internal angles of shapes is something that can become a challenge to deliver. This project aims to address that whilst teaching computational thinking concepts i.e. problem solving. The Digital Schoolhouse has worked with the Langley Grammar School Maths and IT/Computing departments to ensure that the project meets the curriculum needs of KS2 teachers but also gives pupils the opportunity to experience teaching techniques used at KS3.
The Digital Schoolhouse teacher begins the lesson by drawing out a range of shapes on individual whiteboards. The purpose of doing this is so that the class can analyse the structure of the shapes and consider how they knew to draw the shape and if it was correct i.e. they know that shapes have a particular number of sides. The Digital Schoolhouse teacher then helps the children to problem solve the internal angle of the shape by dividing 360 degrees by the number of sides.
The pupils then experience drawing shapes and images by following a series of instructions, as well as providing their own instructions. These unplugged activities introduce pupils to the concept of algorithms and programming and helps them understand the precise nature of programming.
The Digital Schoolhouse teacher then introduces algebra by using the computing concepts of 'constants' and 'variables' with inputs and the pen up/pen down tool to draw the shape in scratch. Pupils are then encouraged to make their shape calculator more user friendly by adding animation to the output of the answer so that a character walks across the screen and say the answer in a speech bubble. Extension activities at the end of the day allow students to adapt and extend their programme for other purposes, a range of activities are suggested thereby allowing pupils to choose their own modifications to their programme.