Storytime - Programming on Paper

Read "If: Ball, Then: Catch" and learn about the basics of programming using just paper and pencil.

This workshop consists of two parts: a reading of "If: Ball, Then: Catch" by Katherine Schoepp followed by programming using just paper and pencil.

This virtual outreach activity is split into a pre-activity document - i.e., workshop overview and list of materials with preparation instructions for both the volunteer and educator and a PowerPoint presentation with presenter notes to help lead the workshop virtually.

Students use the following computational thinking skills and global competencies to create a series of instructions describing how to draw a graph paper design:

  • Decomposition: breaking down a problem into smaller parts or sub-problems.
  • Abstraction: reducing the complexity of a problem or task by focusing on what is important.
  • Pattern recognition: being able to recognize and use patterns to describe and represent sequences in data or processes.
  • Algorithmic thinking: creating a series of ordered, logical, and unambiguous rules or instructions necessary to solve a problem or achieve an objective.
  • Debugging: finding and correcting bugs such as syntax errors e.g. spelling mistakes, logic errors e.g. incorrect logic, and other types of errors.
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Collaboration
  • Communication

What You Need

For the reading:

  • "If: Ball, Then: Catch" by Katherine Schoepp

For the activity:

  • 1 grid design printout
  • 1 graph paper programming commands sheet
  • 1 sheet blank graph paper
  • 2 pencils

PowerPoint:

Pre-Activity Attachment:

 

Safety Notes

Ensure you are familiar with Let's Talk Science's precautions with respect to safe delivery of virtual outreach to youth. 

What To Do

Part A: Reading of "If: Ball, Then: Catch" by Katherine Schoepp

Part B: Doing the Activity

  • Choose a grid design from the grid design handout.
  • The Storytime host gives instructions to draw the grid design using the graph paper programming commands provided. Record the instructions you give using the symbols provided.
  • Students follow the instructions to draw the grid design.
  • Once your program is written, switch roles. Can the host draw the same grid design using the program you created? If not, what part of your program needs to be debugged?

Discovery

Investigate Further

Once students have completed their first challenge, you can choose to extend their learning by:

  • using larger grids
  • using more complex grid designs
  • encouraging students to trade programs with other groups
  • adding "functions" to make their program simpler
  • using different colours and adding a command to switch colour

Investigate Further

Once students have completed their first challenge, you can choose to extend their learning by:

  • using larger grids
  • using more complex grid designs
  • encouraging students to trade programs with other groups
  • adding "functions" to make their program simpler
  • using different colours and adding a command to switch colour

Resources

PowerPoint:

Pre-Activity Attachment:

 

All relevant and necessary worksheets can be found here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/17vEGnaBTvDGt1pKlNNwEdqi_tW06S5J0 

Graph Paper Programming, from code.org: https://code.org/curriculum/course2/1/Teacher

Alternate activity, especially for younger students, from the author of the book: https://www.ifballthencatch.ca/blogs/news/programming-on-paper 

Resources

PowerPoint:

Pre-Activity Attachment:

 

All relevant and necessary worksheets can be found here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/17vEGnaBTvDGt1pKlNNwEdqi_tW06S5J0 

Graph Paper Programming, from code.org: https://code.org/curriculum/course2/1/Teacher

Alternate activity, especially for younger students, from the author of the book: https://www.ifballthencatch.ca/blogs/news/programming-on-paper 

Check out additional resources (articles, career profiles and more) on these topics from Let’s Talk Science: