Submitted by Bonnie Bell
Northern & Northeastern CO
Troop 76059 recently completed the Programming Robots badge without actually using a computer. As a software engineer, I think the more interesting part of programming is figuring out how to instruct a robot to do a job rather than the specific mechanics of any one language. I printed out some basic maze diagrams, and reproduced them on a sheet using painters tape for the lines, so that we could have a quick set-up and take down for our meetings. At the meeting, we had a discussion about robots, then the girls proceeded to the programming part. First, they solved the maze themselves. Then, they wrote a “program” of instructions for a robot to complete the maze. Our programming language had three instructions: go forward, turn right, and turn left. Next, they paired up and each got a chance to be the robot and execute a friend’s program. If the friend was able to follow the program and get out of the maze, they were done. If not, they went back and reworked their program. Some of the girls needed just one more pass, some of them needed to finally work through the program in real time (like you would using a debugger). All of them eventually got their robots through the maze. They have consistently listed the robot activity as one of their favorite things for the year.
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