Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Education Programming Star Wars Prequels

Hour of Code 2015 Star Wars Tutorial: Spare the IF Statement, Spoil the Child? 156

theodp writes: Teaching U.S. K-12 kids their programming fundamentals in past Hours of Code were an IF-fy Bill Gates and a LOOP-y Mark Zuckerberg. Interestingly, the new signature tutorial — Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code — created by Lucasfilm and Code.org ("in a locked room with no windows") for this December's Hour of Code, eschews both IF statements and loops. The new learn-to-code tutorial instead elects to show students "events" after they've gone through the usual move-up-down-left-right drills. With the NY Times and National Center for Women & Information Technology recently warning against putting Star Wars in the CS classroom ("Attracting more female high school students to computer science classes might be as easy as tossing out the Star Wars posters," claimed an Aug. 29th NCWIT Facebook post), the theme of the new tutorial seems an odd choice for Code.org, whose stated mission includes "increasing [CS] participation by women." But if Star Wars is, as some suggest, more aimed at boys, perhaps Code.org has something up its sleeve for girls (a la last year's Disney Princesses) with another as yet unannounced signature tutorial that it teased would be "just as HUGE" as the Star Wars one. Any guesses on what that might be?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Hour of Code 2015 Star Wars Tutorial: Spare the IF Statement, Spoil the Child?

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 13, 2015 @02:58PM (#50924197)

    "Attracting more female high school students to computer science classes might be as easy as tossing out the Star Wars posters,"

    Excuse me, but by that warped sexist logic, just throw out the computers entirely! Replace them with stoves and dish racks!

    Literal WTF

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      AGree 100%, while I agree with equality and I'm still amazed, and ashamed, that a gender pay gap even exists in 2015, assuming star wars posters are the reason girls aren't into coding, and suggesting putting up disney princess posters might help? That's about as sexist as it can get right there folks. People get into coding for various reasons, and the posters in the computer lab rarely have an effect. Why are we differentiating coders by gender at all? Why aren't we trying to attract ANYONE into codin
      • by Anonymous Coward

        AGree 100%, while I agree with equality and I'm still amazed, and ashamed, that a gender pay gap even exists in 2015, assuming star wars posters are

        Does the 'gender pay gap' mean all females averaged against all males, or does it mean female wages vs. male wages in the same job title?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          It means all females averaged against all males.

          Studies done by people interested in demographics instead of propaganda have shown 1.) For people with 4 year degrees, the pay gap is a rounding error. 2.) Women pay women less than men pay women, at least for academic positions.

          Oh, looks like Raseri has answered your question first, but I'll post this anyway because I believe point #2 will point to the real problem and the windmill feminism is tilting against. Until feminism wants to stop legitimizing "inte

      • by Raseri ( 812266 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:29PM (#50924511)

        I'm still amazed, and ashamed, that a gender pay gap even exists in 2015

        Good thing it doesn't. That myth was busted years ago. Why are you still believing in it? Do you also believe in Santa Claus?

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-hoff-sommers/wage-gap_b_2073804.html
        http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-gender-pay-gap-is-a-complete-myth/
        http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303532704579483752909957472
        http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2012/04/16/its-time-that-we-end-the-equal-pay-myth/

        Stop parroting stupid shit just because you think it makes you look sensitive and enlightened. It doesn't. It just makes you look like an asshole with no critical thinking skills.

        • by ljw1004 ( 764174 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @08:11PM (#50927093)

          Good thing [a gender pay gap] doesn't [exist]. That myth was busted years ago. Why are you still believing in it? Do you also believe in Santa Claus?
          http://www.forbes.com/sites/re... [forbes.com]
          Stop parroting stupid shit just because you think it makes you look sensitive and enlightened. It doesn't. It just makes you look like an asshole with no critical thinking skills.

          I only read your Forbes link, not the others. But the Forbes article says that (1) a wage gap does exist, (2) it doesn't seem to be caused by on-the-job discrimination, and is instead caused by women being disproportionately employed in lower-paying roles.

      • If you read the article it's about creating an inviting environment, which is true of anyplace. Walk into room with Star Wars posters and you wonder what kind of loser works here.
    • by bsdasym ( 829112 )
      This is the kind of insight that sets their heads spinning around with green stuff spewing out. Suggesting that Star Wars stuff is scaring away the girls is no different from saying it's the computers themselves.
    • Because "Star Wars" has something to do with programming...oh that's right it doesn't. But hey keep pushing those cultural stereotypes...
  • Holy links ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @02:59PM (#50924217) Homepage

    Wow, 13 freakin' links ... like anybody reads the articles now.

    Is there an actual article in there somewhere?

    • by grimmjeeper ( 2301232 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:13PM (#50924347) Homepage
      I'm still trying to figure out what the OP is trying to say. The summary is so disjointed it's nearly impossible to follow. Well, unless you have ADHD or.... LOOK! SQUIRREL!!!!.... hey, lets go ride bikes.
      • by jetkust ( 596906 )
        He's basically saying bla bla bla [INSERT REFERENCE TO STAR WARS] bla bla bla....
      • It's pretty easy when you read the article:

        "Over and over, Dr. Cheryan and her colleagues have found that female students are more interested in enrolling in a computer class if they are shown a classroom (whether virtual or real) decorated not with “Star Wars” posters, science-fiction books, computer parts and tech magazines, but with a more neutral décor — art and nature posters, coffee makers, plants and general-interest magazines."

        "The researchers also found that cultural st
        • Obviously, the real solution is to get women more interested in Star Wars - which thankfully I think J.J. Abrams might be accomplishing.

          Then the Star Wars posters will be an attractant. In fact any uptick in female interest of programming is probably directly attributable to Rebels.

  • by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:00PM (#50924225)

    I realize that some social engineers want this done, and that certain agencies make money selling the fantasy (media). Teaching someone to code does not make them a programmer. No, it does not make them a better person. No, it does not make them responsible or moral. What it does do is try to flood the market with cheap labor, and make a zombie force that can't think very well for themselves.

    Just say "NO" to social engineers working for the ultra wealthy!

    • Uh, yeah, what he said.

    • by Raseri ( 812266 )
      It will work, for a year or two, then the percentage of women who code will drop back to normal levels. Tellingly, nobody ever says why having more men than women programming is a bad thing. If you ask anybody pushing this shit you'll be met with shrieking accusations of misogyny and racism (yes, really; women are a race now, apparently). The left-wingers these days go full Godwin at the mere hint that someone isn't deep-throating the precious Narrative(TM).
      • by x0ra ( 1249540 )

        Tellingly, nobody ever says why having more men than women programming is a bad thing.

        Quoting Canadian PM: "Because... It's 2015."

        • by Raseri ( 812266 )
          That's not an explanation. It's bullshit handwaving. Women can do whatever they want, and make up the majority of college graduates, and have for 30 years: http://www.forbes.com/sites/cc... [forbes.com] If most of them choose a career path that isn't "Code Monkey", who's to say that they've made the wrong choice? The next question, then, is, "For whom is this actually bad?"
          • That's not an explanation. It's bullshit handwaving. Women can do whatever they want, and make up the majority of college graduates, and have for 30 years: http://www.forbes.com/sites/cc... [forbes.com] If most of them choose a career path that isn't "Code Monkey", who's to say that they've made the wrong choice? The next question, then, is, "For whom is this actually bad?"

            And who really wants to be a code monkey, anyway? Big coding shops are more like an assembly line. The pay is good because of competition -- or at least it will be until the market is even more flooded with "programmers."

    • by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <barbarahudson@NOSPaM.gmail.com> on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:12PM (#50924339) Journal
      You're also not teaching someone to code if you avoid conditional logic and loops. That was true if life as well, even before computers. "If (no cars coming) cross the road. or while (timer less than 45 minutes) leave cake in oven. or while (hungry) eat. Even case statements are handy constructs.
      • by NMBob ( 772954 )
        Everyone is equal and unique, so no need for if's or loops. :)
      • by SQLGuru ( 980662 )

        While I'm not arguing that conditionals and looping structures are very handy, it *IS* technically possible to code entirely with events (as the summary describes) ---- provided that data is available to each event handler.

        Assume a fictitious pseudo language:

        data {
        msg: string = "",
        counter: int = 0
        }

        when(App.Starting) {
        msg = "Hello World";
        counter = 1;
        }

        when(counter.modified && counter 10) {
        App.Finish();
        }

        Obviously, a compiler wo

      • While I agree with what you said, there is a valid "more advanced" reason to avoid conditionals with many languages; if your conditionals are such that you're checking against a set of attributes or behaviors consistently, it might be better to remove the conditional and use a polymorphic object in place of the 'if ... then' or 'case' statements.

        This is, of course, provided that the language that you are using has an object model that makes this possible, easy, and more legible than the conditionals. I
    • Teaching someone to do "algebra" does not make them a "mathematician." No, it does not make them a better person. No, it does not make them responsible or moral. What it does do is try to flood the market with cheap labor, and make a zombie force that can't think very well for themselves. We don't want carpenters using this knowledge for square footage estimates. They should go to their local mathematician union to get a qualified calculation. /s

      I get what you're saying, but I don't think most people a

      • Take head out ass for a second. Programming is not a core course. Algebra is a core course. Algebra is fundamental and other subjects build off it, like programming. Programming is not fundamental. Now you may put your head up your ass.
        • I can see some people seem to hate the algebra comparison. Let's try a different comparison. Sculpting. Everyone sculpted in school. Yet most people aren't sculptors. Everyone learned what an endoplasmic reticulum is. Yet very few went on to use that knowledge as a biologist. A lot of school is to give yourself exposure so you can find your passions. That's all I'm trying to say. Don't deny people that exposure.

      • by s.petry ( 762400 )

        Teaching someone to do "algebra" does not make them a "mathematician."

        Programming is not a base level skill, and making such a comparison is idiotic. Your next statement demonstrates that you know better, but you are not extrapolating your own thoughts.

        I get what you're saying, but I don't think most people are arguing that exposing kids to programming makes them a software engineer.

        Straw man, but you are almost making my point in your attempt to look knowledgeable. Kids today are not learning critical thinking, they are learning how to take tests and remember what people tell them. Facts don't matter, doing exactly what you are told matters. "Programming" is not some savior in a completely broken educ

        • Maybe I"m naive as to what you are referring to with social engineering. I have a 5 year old. She is able to do algorithms. if this then that etc. I think teaching her this is helpful even if she doesn't end up a programmer. I don't think teaching her programming is harmful and I find it odd that someone would see it as harmful. Could you elaborate?

          PS - I don't think programming covers some magical divide. I am not teaching my daughter the dijkstra's algorithm to start, we start with simple sequences

          • by s.petry ( 762400 )

            You should not be so uninformed/uneducated that you believe 'if then" logic is really programming, let alone an algorithm. "If then" is decision making based on what ever criteria you have at hand at the time you are making the decision. When dealing with simple objects "if A=2" decisions are easy. What happens when this becomes abstracted even a little? What happens when it's a moral decision without clear definition? What happens if someone lies to you and tells you A=2 and it's not? How do you know

    • Star Wars is social engineering. Disney is betting your brain has turned to mush after watching so much crap that you will go and see this movie.
  • IF (Score:5, Funny)

    by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:02PM (#50924241)

    if (!programLogic.Contains("if"))
    {
        _isTrivial = true;
    }

  • by jdavidb ( 449077 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:03PM (#50924249) Homepage Journal

    I'm married with three daughters, and all the women and girls in this house like Star Wars.

    • Well duh... you have taught your kids to like SW...

      The issue is the "princess in distress" trope. It is not a good message for girls.

      The only "kick ass" female I can even point to in SW is Leia... and yet she needs saving by a male regularly and is completely objectified for the better part of an entire movie.

      • Any average woman attacked by any average man will be a de facto "princess in distress" simply because she will be overpowered. This also goes for the kick ass female going up against a kick ass male. The trope is much more aimed at teaching young men that they have a responsibility to protect the innocent and vulnerable.

        Unless they're highly trained, it would be a horrible disservice for anyone to teach their daughter that she should go toe to toe against a man without fighting like all hell while simult

      • The only "kick ass" female I can even point to in SW is Leia... and yet she needs saving by a male regularly and is completely objectified for the better part of an entire movie.

        In the first movie, she needs saving from the Death Star/Vader because she was actively working with the rebellion. During the rescue, however, she takes charge at various points to help herself get rescued (even sarcastically commenting on the "skill" of Luke/Han/Chewie in rescuing her). After that, she's not in the final battle,

    • Yeah, no kidding ... I'm pretty sure I've seen a friend's 5-year old daughter wearing her princess dress, playing with her light saber and Batman figurine, and beating up the boys she was playing with.

      Because that's how she rolls. ;-)

      She could also use a BlackBerry Playbook when she was 2.

      If she wants to code she'll bloody well do it. If she doesn't, I pity the person who tries to force her to do it.

      But her Yoda t-shirt tells me Star Wars posters won't be a barrier to anything she does.

    • I'm married with three daughters, and all the women and girls in this house like Star Wars.

      Right, and it's pretty clear the next movie(s) features a female lead.

    • Seems like a good time to show that friendship (or events) is magic and bring in the pony.
      Should be enough brony coders out there to create an equestrian curriculum.

    • by Matheus ( 586080 )

      Most girls/women I know like Star Wars as well. Even those who aren't big fans I'm not seeing any who would run away from something just because Star Wars they just don't seek it out.

      That being said: In my own limited demographic of "girls I know" they would get MUCH better buy in from Dr. Who. The reboot of the series really grabbed the XX side of the gene pool in a big way for whatever reason. I can't blame 'em... I've always liked Dr. Who but the reboot has the ladies swooning. Are the new Doctors that m

    • by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @05:04PM (#50925525) Journal
      Yeah, I'm puzzled over this. When I was a 14 year old I fell madly in love with Star Wars. I wanted to be Princess Leia and I wanted to marry Han Solo. Cool stories don't need to be separated by arbitrary gender binaries.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:16PM (#50924369)

    2014: Promotional campaign using mass-media characters targeted at girls. Media narrative: is it acceptable to expose kids to commerically-owned media franchises in an educational context?

    2015: Promotional campaign using mass-media characters targeted at boys. Media narrative: is it acceptable to expose kids to educational content that might be oriented towards boys?

    Conclusion: Narratives regarding possible female exclusion trump allegations of corporate mass-media meddling. Useful information for CorpComm professionals.

  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:17PM (#50924379) Homepage
    I for one welcome our new GOTO overlords!
    • I for one welcome our new G0-T0 [wikia.com] crimelords!

      FTFY.

    • by halivar ( 535827 )

      I believe the abject fear of goto has fundamentally damaged the last 20 years of CS graduates. Having avoided goto completely, they are unable to conceptualize any programming logic lower than 4GL, much less optimize their higher-level code for it. I personally think we should go back to using IF and GOTO as first concepts for child programming, and build understanding of higher-level control flow from there.

    • GOTO Comment(50924379)

      And now anyone reading the comments from the top down will be caught in an infinite loop! *insert evil laugh here*

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:19PM (#50924405)
    DO Kiss your Privacy Goodbye WHILE Using Facebook
    IF Windows 10 THEN Microsoft uploads your personal information
    FOR Google App in List of Apps Let x = Another 10 million users bought and sold to highest bidder
  • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:22PM (#50924445) Journal

    I mean teaching people to use highly abstract concepts like events before they have mastered basic control flow is certainly the path to their developing a greater understanding.

    STUPID!

    • To me, a mouse click seems far more concrete than the idea of a counter variable. Anyone who uses a computer can tell you what a mouse click is! In what way is an event "highly abstract"?
      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        That's the problem though. It 'seems far more concrete' it really isn't though. That will ultimately be a barrier to you learning.

        Did you math teacher show you the short cut way to find a derivative by multiplying the coefficients or did he or she show you the limit formula first. If you skip the basics most people won't bother to learn them. It feels like going backwards. It isn't fun. Now not everyone is like that of course some will get enamored with all things programing and dig in.

        Most though wil

    • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
      don't you understand, it's purely meant to target the callback hell of Javascript...
    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 )

      I mean teaching people to use highly abstract concepts like events before they have mastered basic control flow is certainly the path to their developing a greater understanding.

      STUPID!

      HyperCard for the Mac starts with events. HyperCard was hugely successful at getting people to dip their toes into code, and more importantly to empower them to tinker and via code make their computer serve their needs. I think events are a good starting point!

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It makes sense for young children who have not started using variables in mathematics yet. It's teaching the higher level ideas of event driven applications, not the detail of implementing them.

  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:44PM (#50924671) Homepage

    another as yet unannounced signature tutorial that it teased would be "just as HUGE" as the Star Wars one. Any guesses on what that might be?

    No idea what it could be.
    I'm never going to get this.
    I'll get this when hell's FROZEN over.

  • As a university student, it has seemed to me that among my friends, there are more girls excited/talking about the new star wars movie coming out than guys.... Maybe this just applies to millenials? I mean, my 5 year old sister likes disney princesses, but....

  • I think there's an error in the problem specification for this puzzle. Nice job giving the prospective programmer a realistic view of the industry.

    https://studio.code.org/s/star... [code.org]

    If you add only 100 points for each pilot (per the instructions), that makes 300 points, which the tutorial deems a failure.

    • Josh S. (Code.org Support)

      Nov 13, 12:39

      Hi,

      Thanks for writing in about this. This is a known bug we're looking into a fix for as we speak. Please try again in a few days and write back if you're still experiencing troubles.

      Best,
      Code.org Staff

      Nov 13, 12:12

      Bug in Course starwars Stage 1 Puzzle 9
      https://studio.code.org/s/star... [code.org]
      Amazon CloudFront

      The instructions to mean that each pilot is worth 100 points. The tutorial deems that a failure; the programmer has to award more points for each to succeed. I think th

  • ...the power of the Dark Side of the FORTH.

  • I'd prefer a white room with black curtains at the station.

  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @05:49PM (#50925889) Homepage

    Um, I would hypothesize that there is correlation between liking Sci-Fi and liking technology and coding that has nothing to do with gender.

    Gosh, why don't we focus on poetry instead of tools in shop class? BECAUSE IT'S SHOP CLASS.

    You might get a few unusual suspects to come to the first week of shop class if it's focused on cake-making, too. But eventually the tools will come out and at that point you'll still lose anyone that wasn't in it for the hardware and banging.

    Same thing goes for IT and STEM in general. It is what it is. Geeks like it. Geek women like it. They also like films and bits of pop culture that are full of technology and physics and stuff. Downplay that all you want, but at the end of the day, it is what it is. Hanging a bunch of photos of flowers and unicorns in programmer school is not going to keep the flower-and-unicorn set there once the homework begins.

    I read the Fortune article linked from the Facebook post and it's pretty flawed. It's based on simply asking teen girls if some art and flowers in the classroom would make them more likely to enroll in computer science classes. Of course they said yes. That has shit all to do with whether they'd actually do it, or whether they'd actually stay in computer science class once they got there. Clearly not. Anyone that is swayed to choose their courses by the presence of art and flowers in the classroom (or that concedes so easily to a survey like this one) is not likely IMO to stick around and become a computing professional through years of staring at a screen all day, or to hang tough through the related homework.

    Silly stuff.

    • This is what happens when these things are run by people that majored in gender studies instead of actual science. They have to find sexism in everything, else their degree becomes useless and their jobs become redundant.

  • Tried the "ages 6-10" pathway, and a positive thing I can say is that it uses the a MIT Scratch-like programming language for the coding challenges (giving credit to Harvard and Berkley...), which I think is a great idea for introducing coding concepts to people not familiar with the traditional languages yet.

    There are 15 levels and every few levels there is a video message from someone involved in star wars talking about the movies (nice ad placement, btw) or about javascript (which makes no sense to inclu

"The chain which can be yanked is not the eternal chain." -- G. Fitch

Working...