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Same Programming Lab activity, vastly different results

Throughout this week I've been running around visiting 10 classes across three elementary schools for the Hour of Code. On Day 4, I gave a similar workshop to a group of high school students. I wanted to see if I could use the same materials in Wolfram Programming Lab for these high school students that I had used for the elementary students.

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Since we had limited time, I had the students use Open WPL since it doesn't require the students to create a Wolfram ID. We did the Getting Started, Draw a Sphere and Wikipedia WordCloud explorations...just as I had done with the elementary students. Even though the material was the same, the reaction was completely different.

Example reaction from an elementary student drawing a red sphere:


Example reaction from a high school student drawing a red sphere:

Can I make any 3D object? Why do you have empty brackets after Sphere?

I wondered if the high school students would be bored with the activities that I tried with the elementary school students. To my delight, the high schoolers had a great time with the same activities. I was able to go into more detail about the functions and options in the activity. We were able to discussion new applications for the one-liners that were in the Getting Started exploration and since the high school students picked up on the syntax quickly we were able to go on a variety of tangents using the code in the exploration as a starting point.

This goes to show that while there aren't cartoons jumping around on the screen, Programming Lab is a fantastic resource for elementary school students. And just because the elementary school students are using it...doesn't make it lame for older students to use. It's all about the application and discussion.

I had a great, if not exhausting time during the Hour of Code. I spoke to about 450 students during that week and it's clear that having programming apart of the curriculum is a win-win. It fully engages all students, develops critical problem solving skills and prepares them for a career as a programmer.

Go beyond the hour of code and bring Wolfram Language to your school today.

POSTED BY: Adriana O'Brien
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