Monday, 28 July 2008


I have been getting my year 12 programming students working through Microsoft's code rules, which is a self paced e-learning resource designed to build them from development through to production of application using visual basic. It has been interesting as it requires them to work through prove its and challenges, normally they were able to get through a section of work quite quickly, however they have been slowing down as the information they are required to use gets harder. However, this is not the reason why i write this blog post. 
It because of a comment one of my students said today while trying to sole this problem

Look out! You almost hit that Jack Rabbit crossing the road! 

Do you suppose that rabbit thinks it can live forever? Say, that gives me an idea. 

Suppose rabbits did live forever. Let’s say that there is an island somewhere with lots of vegetation for rabbits, and no predators. 

Suppose two rabbits are placed on the island and that every pair of rabbits has a litter of 4 rabbits. 

So after 1 generation there would be 2 + 4 = 6 rabbits. After two generations there would be 6 + 12 = 18 rabbits.

Show the generation number, the number of rabbits, and the number of rabbits per square foot, assuming the island is one square mile in size and that there are 5280 feet in a mile.

Allow the user to choose the number of generations to show.

How would the rabbit population grow with each generation?

"I hate algebra, but I had to use it to solve one of the problems today. I hate it but it helped me." It enabled him to put what he was working on in class into a more practical use. This is what I like and one of the reasons why it is stated in our programme statement, you need to have good math skills, yet no one believes it, due to they are used to end user programs. They think that computing is word, excel, publisher and powerpoint. Some of them still don't believe that they are the ones that are creating the program, it is because they have not crossed that divide. It is too hard is there favourite saying, but break it down for them, "Paint" the form, define what it is you want each element to do in English, then work on the code and debug the code if need be and then test the working program, it can be that simple. Just do one step at a time and don't look at the large picture.
I have also made a little competition with the students, they were to develop a random generator program, which we used to show how it could be used, it was an interesting lesson, then getting the students to get there random number generator working so they could all have an individual number caused some headaches, as normal, not all students follow instructions at once, which caused a few problems. Next comes the chocolate fish awards for most creative use of the button. I am still thinking about how I can do this but it should be fun.

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