Lesson 21: Explore Project Ideas

Project | Define | Prepare | Try | Reflect

Overview

The next four lessons provide an opportunity for students to put their coding skills to use in a capstone project. This project will help individuals gain experience with coding and produce an exemplar to share with peers and loved ones. Intended to be a multi-lesson or multi-week experience, students will spend time exploring brainstorming, learning about the design process, building, and presenting their final work.

In the explore stage, students will play with pre-built examples of projects in both Artist and Play Lab for inspiration. Next, students will learn about the design process and how to implement it in their own projects. They will then be given the space to create their own project in Artist, Play Lab, or another interface that they have become familiar with (this is likely the longest stage of the project). Finally, students will be able to present their finished work to their peers.

Purpose

Exploring project ideas is meant to inspire students with realistic and entertaining ideas for their culminating projects.

Agenda

Day 1 - Explore Project Ideas (45 min)

Day 2 - The Design Process (45 min)

Day 3 - Build Your Project (45 min)

Day 4 & 5 - Present Your Project (45 min each)

Extension Activity

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Learn to plan in advance for an ongoing assignment.
  • Explain how system limitations can affect project design.
  • Describe how compromise can help keep a project on track and inspire creativity.

Preparation

Links

Heads Up! Please make a copy of any documents you plan to share with students.

For the Teacher

Vocabulary

  • Define - Figure out the details of the problems that you are trying to solve
  • Prepare - Research, plan, and acquire materials for the activity you are about to do
  • Reflect - Carefully think back on something with the intention of improving the outcome in the future
  • Try - Attempt to do something

Support

Report a Bug

Teaching Guide

Day 1 - Explore Project Ideas (45 min)

Example Projects

Goal: This part of the process is an exploration. Students will sit down with a stage full of example projects to remix and learn. Not only will this give students an idea of what is possible, it will also help them see the limitations of the tool.

Give students a day to play with and remix the projects found in Course E Project - Examples. Have them use their journals (or notebook paper) to keep track of thoughts and ideas as they go.

This activity should be done in the same pairs/groups that will be working on projects together over the next several lessons.

Make sure your class understands that they will be spending the next several weeks working with projects of their own, so they should pay close attention to how these programs were written, as well as the concepts that they use.

Day 2 - The Design Process (45 min)

Define and Prepare

Students will come up with a project and plan their strategy for programming that project in a single day. Students should have a project sketch and a description by the time the day is done.

Preparing Students for the Process:

The most important responsibility you have in kicking off this segment is to help your class understand the scope of this project. Students should be clear about the various expectations over the coming weeks so that they can prepare for their presentations appropriately.

To help your class manage this multi-stage undertaking, they should be given both the Final Project Design - Worksheet and the CS Fundamentals Final Project - Rubric on the first day of planning. Students will then be able to follow the rubric each step of the way to predict what their project grade will be in the end.

The Final Project Design - Worksheet will provide a place for students to capture relevant thoughts and processes as they go, so they are more prepared for their presentations in the end.

As the teacher, you should decide which elements of these documents are important to you and be sure to edit or remove anything that you do not intend to draw student focus.

Lesson Tip

Save 5 minutes or so at the end of the day to have students trade their Final Project Design - Worksheet to look at each other’s work. This will help make sure that nothing is omitted or overlooked.

Define and Prepare:

Now that the class has their Final Project Design - Worksheet in hand, they should start filling out the questions under Day 1.

Students will likely need to refer back to their notes from playing with the example projects, especially if they don’t have access to online Artist or Play Lab project levels while they plan.

Students should focus on defining and planning their project during Day 1, and not cross over into building until their ideas have been written up and/or drawn out.

If students get stuck, help them work through ideas by asking questions and recalling examples, rather than offering solutions.

Day 3 - Build Your Project (45 min)

Try

Students will use this day to build an initial version of their project.

Equipped with their Final Project Design - Worksheet, students should head to the computers to start bringing their projects to life.

This process will come complete with plenty of trial and error. Projects are likely to become truncated versions of the original scope (if not morphed altogether). Remind students that this kind of compromise is common in software design, but they need to be sure to document the reasons for the changes in their product.

Don’t let the class forget to fill out their Final Project Design - Worksheet as they go. It might be helpful to suggest that pairs/groups take a worksheet break to begin discussing these questions about halfway through their lab time. Alternatively, the navigator can keep their eyes open for pertinent answers while the driver codes.

Be sure that each team member has their own Final Project Design Worksheet, as there are questions about each student’s own individual thoughts and behaviors that need to get captured along the way.

Day 4 & 5 - Present Your Project (45 min each)

Presentations

Students will create and present their projects in an approved manner (written, oral, or using multimedia).

Lesson Tip:

If you are looking for a section of this series to assign as homework, this is it! Projects do not have to be presented in electronic form, so this is a great offline option. Other ways to present projects (both online and offline) include:

  • Report
  • Blog post
  • Online
  • In front of the class with a poster

Create:

Ideally, you will have class time available to give students to work on their presentations. This will allow them to incorporate rich multimedia components, like Google Slides. For other presentation ideas, visit 72 Creative Ways for Your Students to Show What They Know - Website.

Encourage students to include all of the information from Section J of the Final Project Design Worksheet into their presentation, as well as two or more questions from Section K.

Present:

Students should showcase their apps first, then they can discuss the questions that they covered in their presentations.

It can be very helpful to have students sign up for a specific order in which to give their presentations, so that they are able to enjoy the demonstrations of their classmates without worrying about whether they will be called on next.

Extension Activity

Reflect and Try Again (45 min)

Students will work with another group to give and receive feedback in an effort to make each other’s projects stronger.

Reflect:

For reflections, have each group pair up with another group to try each other’s projects. After about 10 minutes, have the groups discuss the questions in the Final Project Design Worksheet.

Encourage students to ask the questions on the Final Project Design Worksheet and write down feedback provided by their reviewing teams so that they can refer back to it later. This portion should take approximately 15 more minutes.

Lesson Tip:

Teachers should avoid assigning the final bit of project work as homework unless they are certain that students both live within a close proximity to one another and have internet access at home.

Try Again:

With their new reflections in hand, students can head back to their machines to make a handful of edits. With just 10 minutes left, they will likely have to select only the most important feedback to incorporate.

Other

If your students are already comfortable with coding concepts, try having them create their projects in another platform, like Scratch or Alice.

Standards Alignment

View full course alignment

CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards

AP - Algorithms & Programming
  • 1B-AP-12 - Modify, remix or incorporate portions of an existing program into one's own work, to develop something new or add more advanced features.