3 Other Things to Program - Bored of Bee Bots?
By Nick Acton
An endless list of technologies are programmed. Just hitting one key on a computer sets a massive algorithm in motion. Imagine how much programming goes into an entire sentence! Industries rely on complex programmes to power huge production lines. Algorithms are at the centre of the creation of Facebook, Google, Instagram, Snap Chat, Youtube etc etc.
Education is sometimes guilty of not quite conveying this message to children. In Primary School the learning will centre around moving animated characters across a screen and/or programming bee bots to navigate from A to B. Secondary School children might explore slightly more complex algorithms. However, the overall objectives rarely go further than a computer screen or ‘ground bound motion’. Explaining the full extent of programmable technologies is ultimately impossible for schools to achieve. However, we can all do better at widening the context for the subject.
Here are just three easy ways of doing so…
1) Programming instruments
2) Programming lights
3) Programming drones
The app takes a ‘building block’ approach to algorithms that is recognisable from other programmes such as ‘Scratch’ or ‘Hopscotch’. The difference being that you are controlling a physical object. With this particular drone, you can programme it to collect and distribute cargo. In many ways this is the kind of programming that goes into the running of production lines.
Science Fiction is looking less and less like fiction everyday. Robots and programmes are taking over many of our day-to-day menial tasks. Ultimately, many robots and programmes can complete tasks in a faster, safer and more efficient way than we can as humans. Of course, this takes it’s toll on our overall economy and the number of jobs available for the children of the future. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean less jobs but more of a shift of jobs. Being a good programmer is becoming more and more important in the work space. All companies are concerned with efficiency and the ease at which tasks can be completed. Systems and solutions for better workflows are big business. Most people benefit from them everyday in their professional lives. It is important that children are able to contribute to these aspects of working. It is important that they know how programming works. Perhaps more importantly however, they need to understand the importance of programming sooner rather than later.
Nick Acton is a Trainer Specialist at JTRS as well as being a part-time Computing and Music teacher. Through the creation of bespoke training, Nick specialises in empowering educators so they can embed education technologies into their day-to-day classroom practice.