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June 24, 2014

Learning math through programming

Trying to teach math and logic through programming seems to be getting the results. The kids are thinking of the concepts they want to display (through a project) and at the same time learning to keep things simple and manageable and at the same time learning the nuances of programming in scratch (e.g. using stamp instead of a new sprite each time).

The fraction function I created was used by a couple of students at Isai Ambalam to create a small project in which the result of addition with numerator and numerator and denominator and denominator was shown to be incorrect graphically and then corrected.

I felt it was pretty neat and worth sharing:

I have decided that this year with the 7th graders its really worth spending the time upfront to teach them the basics of programming to reap in the benefits later. With the kids at @ Udavi we worked on getting a handle of handling integer addition (with positive and negative numbers) by moving the sprite with as many steps (in x direction) and displaying the current location. This gave quite a few children a visual picture of the negative steps.
Interestingly, one of the children found the limitation that an object when asked to move by steps will refuse to exit from the stage. This placed a lower and upper bound on the numbers that could be dealt with in this fashion in scratch (-268, 267). Here is a slightly modified one in which you can type in inputs instead of changing the numbers each time.

The trick I guess is to keep coming up with a challenge that can be interesting and be useful to learn a concept. It also helps to remember your primary responsibility is to help learn the concept and the secondary responsibility it to help learn programming, so you know when to intervene. 

Here is one that I made up with the 5th grade (I did most of the programming) to give some variety for them to talk about the multiplication and two division stories.

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