Wandering in the woods game: | software engineering | Lewis University

Projects in the list below are for the same overall effort, namely making computer simulations (many of which end up looking like games, sort of). These simulations are meant to help K-8 students learn about computation, computational thinking, math concepts, and computer science. 

the project will have 3 pieces: 

  • a fairly simple visualization designed to show grades K-2 students the basic idea (and perhaps entertain them); students will make some choices, and see what develops
  • a slightly more complicated version in which grades 3-5 students make choices, see data, and meet additional challenges; we are aiming for grades 3-5 students to work with single data generating events, “small data”
  • a still more complex version for grades 6-8 in which students work with local and big data, graphs are generated, and students make judgments that change the data in meaningful ways; for this oldest group, we want to introduce the ideas of working with BIG data sets, interpreting something from multiple sources, over time

A big idea of the simulation is that students will have a similar look and feel to each of the three stages. When they encounter the second and third stages (as described above, K-2, 3-5, and 6-8) when they progress through their school years, the learning curve for the later stages will be shorter. Also, they can have more confidence that they will be successful at the new challenges.

Each of these simulations are designed for a pair of students working together in front of the same screen. The simulations should include audio directions and prompts, and assessments to see how the students are doing with the challenges.

  1. Wandering in the Woods Game: This project has a direct tie to assignment 1. People are “lost in the woods” where the woods are represented by a rectangular grid. The woods are dense, and the people can’t see or hear each other until they are in the same cell of the grid. In grades K-2, the grids are always square, there are always two people, and they start out in diagonally opposite corners of the grid. They wander about randomly, and each move is counted, with a counter for each person. Music plays as cartoon characters wander in the woods. When the people bump into each other, there is a happy graphics display, and statistics from the wandering are displayed and announced audibly. Then the game is reset, and students can start it up again. For grades 3-5, students can set up the size of a grid, which can be rectangular (instead of just square). There can be 2, 3, or 4 people, and students can place them wherever on their grid. Once the game is started, it can be played and replayed multiple times. Statistics (such as longest run without meeting, shortest run, and average run) are displayed. In grades 6-8, students have all the control of the 3-5 game, but 6-8 students will be challenged to run experiments to determine how the average run varies with the size and shape of the grids. They will also be able to explore different protocols for wandering, and to decide which is the best way to wander if you want to shorten the time it takes to meet up.

A really great team is likely to make their simulation much better than I have suggested here. For example, exponential growth might be illustrated using zombies! When you give me you preferred choices, you are invited to tell me why you think your group would be best to do that particular project. Part of your justification could be neat ideas your group has for making your simulation better (more fun, more clever, more educational) than my descriptions are.

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