Decoding with Dash: An Engaging Game of Observation and Communication
A Talk by Sharee Pfaff (Maker Ed Facilitator, Mariners Christian School)
About this Talk
To practice coding skills, students are familiar with creating an algorithm and watching a robot perform. Now, let's flip the process backwards, and really test students' skills of observation and communication. Through this highly engaging game, students race to decode a robot’s program while working together as a team.
Imagine teams of students eagerly awaiting the signal to start. One representative from each team comes to the front of the room to watch a robot perform a series of pre-programmed moves. (The robot is hidden behind a shield so that no others can see.) That student then races back to their team and is tasked with remembering the moves of the robot and describing it in detail so that their team can create a matching algorithm for their team's robot. Next, a new team member races to the front to watch the robot and then proceeds to go back to their team and provide more information about the secret code. The game continues until teams successfully decode the sample robot's algorithm and successfully encode it on their own robot.
This game, which has been successfully played with students in grades 3-5, is a multi-faceted experience that not only covers the basics of coding, but also provides opportunities for communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking.
By watching this presentation, attendees will be able to understand how to set up the game using any robot such as Dash, Cue, Sphero, or others. The coding can be in block or text form. The game is easily modified for any coding experience level and is an excellent way to review relevant vocabulary such as algorithm, loop, conditional, and parameter. The game can also be adapted for schools continuing to offer remote learning, where teachers can show the coded robot to students at home who can then write the code by hand or on a block-based coding platform.
My students love this game, and yours will too!