Assessment: Move Until Dark with Pseudocode

Assessment Type: 

The "Thinking About Programming" and "Planning and Behaviors" videos on the "Basics" page from the "NXT Video Trainer 2.0" provide an introduction to programming concepts, including the use of pseudocoding. The attached Pseudocode Sheet Word file can be used to introduce the concept of pseudocoding at this early stage:

  1. The Challenge is broken into Major Tasks
  2. Then each Task is broken down into Actions; an English description of what the robot must do (a.k.a. mom-speak, or how would you explain this Action to your mom?).
  3. From there, each Action is written into NXT Commands with all necessary parameters.
  4. If any NXT Command requires a calculation, this work is done in the RoboMath column.

With the relatively simple programming challenges at this level, the Pseudocode process may seem like overkill, but many teachers have found that starting out with this discipline from the earliest stages provides students with the skills to tackle more complex challenges easily and avoid the guess-and-check method of program development which most students inherently gravitate to. If an electronic version is preferred the attached Pseudocode Template Word file example can be used. The beauty here is that students may list all the Major Tasks in one step, then insert the associated Actions in another pass, and finally the NXT commands in a third step - all without having to guess how much space to leave (as required in the paper-based method above). The attached Answer Key shows the Pseudocode Sheet Example of the pseudocode for the relatively complex Colored Ball Challenge.

Education Level: 
Middle School
High School
Focus Subject: 
Computing / Computer Science
Robotics Hardware
Robotics Software