I recently set up a hallway station with Scratch and a MaKey Makey to invite students to play with basic programming. The hope was that students would do this relatively unsupervised– for much of the day, I wasn’t around and just let the station run. Obviously, there are a lot of risks in this approach: I felt like in our school community it was a relatively safe activity to run.
I came back at one point and saw that a student had entered the following program for one of the six inputs:
- Set Volume=500%
- Play “Meow”
- Repeat 12001 Times
Who knows how long it had been running before I got there, but the program was happily meowing away (although mercifully, capped at 100% volume). Just after I walked up, an 8th grade student came over to look at the program. I asked him what he thought we should do about it. He thought for a second, and said “add another program that stops it. That way people can start it and see what happens, but then stop it.”
What would the “responsible adult” suggestions have been?
- Turn off the speakers
- Delete the offending program
- Take down the station or add supervision
The student’s suggestion both preserved the learning opportunity of the original looped statement, as well as providing an easy way to manage the consequences. I stepped back and told him to make it happen. He grabbed a friend walking by and the two of them figured out the necessary steps in a few seconds’ time and continued on to class.
Problem-Solving and Collaboration, applied to responsibly solving a problem that had arisen. All this in a non-destructive, non-restrictive solution which allows further development/forward progress. To my mind, a perfect encapsulation of what we want digital citizenship to look like.