Thursday, October 15, 2015

Project Ideas Are Everywhere

Yesterday, like thousands of other teachers, I was proctoring the PSAT exam. Few things are less exciting that watching a room full of students fill in little circles with number 2 pencils. 

One does need to pay attention to the instructions though. They are a mix of clear and not so clear. Helpful and not as helpful. The different parts of the test are  25, 35, 45 and 60.minutes long and you have to get the start and end times right. The proctor’s booklet has a chart in the back to help you determine end time based on start time. No, really, they want to make sure you know that 35 minutes after 9:48 is 10:23 without you having to do all that heavy math. And yes, there was a column for 60 minutes later. Boggles the mind.

Naturally my second thought was “that makes for a good programming project.” You can probably guess what my first thought was but let’s not get into that. My friend Tom suggested the output should be a CSV file. That would make it easy to check and use.

There are all sorts of ways a table like this can be created of course but they all require loops. And they require that students take wrap around into account. I’m actually more curious to see what sort of solutions students come up with than anything else.

Of course we could also make a simple time differential calculator that takes a start time, a length and provides the end time.That might be fun as well. No loops in that one but some interesting math. It really gets into wrap around discussions are well. Computer science beyond programming for the win.

No comments: