In an effort to reinforce important computer science concepts, I shared a brief fairytale with the 6th graders today. The short-story, "The Importance of (Variable) Names", focuses on the need to create clear, meaningful variable names in writing understandable and maintainable code.
￼By the time Princess Ann had reached the northernmost outpost within the kingdom, she was losing hope. Her father, King Fredrick, had sent her on a quest to save the kingdom from impending darkness almost a month ago. So far, Ann had found nothing. Meanwhile reports of roaming dragons and hordes of goblins increased throughout the kingdom. Ann felt completely demoralized.
The outpost of Garroow had been hit particularly hard by the recent chaos. The goblin attacks had been increasing in recent weeks. The commander, Sir Aat, had sent word to Ann's father that the outpost was in desperate need of reinforcements. At a loss for better stops on her quest, Princess Ann headed north to Garroow.
The situation in Garroow was worse than she had expected. During her first night at the outpost, a small goblin attack almost overwhelmed it. The fifty person garrison barely held off just three, relatively lethargic, goblins. She heard the captain shouting orders at his solders: “Ut, guard the South wall. No, I meant Ot. Ut, stay where you are.” “Drex, swap places with Plex, we need an archer on the wall not a blacksmith.” “Et, secure that door.” .........
After listening to the story, the 6th graders quickly identified the important concepts and were able to make strong connections with their Scratch programs. In addition to realizing the need to assign descriptive names to variables, it is also important to do the same for other pieces of code (messages in the broadcast command, names for sprites, costumes and backdrops).