Give students a fully functional program on Day 1 that they will incrementally add features to as you cover content throughout the semester to engage them by satisfying their desire for creating working code.

  • This allows students to practice new concepts they’ve learned on a program they can show off without having to know how all the pieces fit together right away.
    • Students also gain practice working with code created by other programmers.
  • Before class starts, prepare a program for students to iteratively add to.
    • Games work very well.
      • Rodriguez found Snake to be particularly effective.
    • Make sure your program works out-of-the-box.
      • Your game should execute, but it should be a "bare bones" implementation.
        • A bare-bones implementation of Snake might simply draw a List of squares on the screen and let you move the snake by hitting the directional arrow keys.
      • Students should be able to run the game without any errors and be able to interact with it at basic level.
    • As you cover topics in class, return to the game and add new features.
      • These will be mini-assignments throughout the semester for students to implement themselves.
      • Students get to focus exclusively on applying knowledge from a specific lesson because the overall structure of the program is already provided.
        • Not needing to worry about the overhead of user interface (UI), drawing, class design, and other concepts not yet covered keeps students from becoming overwhelming.
    • Examples of enhancements to a Snake game include:
      • Adding an integer variable to keep track of the score as the snake eats food (Variables).
      • Extending the food class to make new types of food (Inheritance).
        • Food that makes your snake fast, by alters the speed of the snake.
        • Food that makes your snake slow.
        • Food that changes the color of your snake, rainbow food.
        • Food that changes the direction of your snake, where the head becomes the tail.
        • Food that moves your snake to a random location.
    • Make the snake grow longer when it eats food (List Manipulation).
      • Add an item to the List, or the other data structure being used to represent the snake when the snake eats food.

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