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Before we make anything – a house, a dress or a computer program – we should start with a design. Because there are two important parts to most programs – the interface (how it looks) and the code – we design these separately.
  • The easiest way to design the interface is by sketching it out on paper.
  • To design the code, write out a list of steps it will have to perform in English. 
This is known as an algorithm and is just like the steps in a food recipe. Solving problems like this is what programming is really about, rather than entering 
commands on the computer. 
All good programmers design algorithms before starting to code
Learning to think out ALL the parts of the program before any coding starts is a hard concept for 6th graders.  As a way to reinforce this important concept, I shared another Computation Fairy Tale with the students - The Importance of Design in Five Course Meals. "Good design practices can save a significant amount of time, help avoid wasting effort, and prevent mistakes."

Currently the two classes are working on two different game designs - Maze Game & Chase Game.  The first step in the design process was to determine the general objective and rules of the games.  From their the pairs had to determine the specific conditions of their individual games and then identify the major components:
  • The Start
  • Movement
  • Winning/Losing

Below is a sample of their initial attempt at designing algorithms for their games:

 





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