In Computer Science class this week, we showed in class the video footage of the latest SpaceX Heavy rocket launch from Florida and had a class discussion on the role of technology in human space exploration. (Link: Video of the SpaceX launch on our Inspirations page.)
This launch was a SpaceX (Elon Musk’s company) launch intended to prove that the rocket had enough range to reach Mars with a legitimate cargo. Elon Musk chose to launch his personal Tesla automobile into a Mars orbit to demonstrate the capability of the spacecraft.
It just so happened that day, we had assigned Learn to Code 2 activity “Using Instances of Different Types” in the Initialization Chapter. One student mentioned that she was surprised to discover that she could have an instance of Expert move a platform up or down as many times as she liked. Another student chimed in that they also discovered this.
Well, it didn’t take long for the discussion to turn to wondering if an expert.turnLockUp() command could be put into a for-loop to lift the platform up into space. Another student yelled out “let’s put Byte on the platform first and then launch it!” When all was said and done, the decision was made to move Byte to the platform with the gem on it and have the expert send both Byte and the gem into space.
This wasn’t exactly what I planned for the day’s activity but I’ll be darned if I didn’t want to see Byte get launched just as much as the students did!
We (and Byte) had a real blast this day. You can see the the solution for the “Using Instances of Different Types” activity, including launch instructions here.
Moral: Embrace the uncertainty of the classroom. The real magic happens when you, the instructor, are comfortable relinquishing control and letting the students guide the exploration.