The FlowSnake VBA Capstone Project
FlowSnake is an Excel game animation platform for developing capstone programming projects in 10th and 11th grade high school computer courses. In their FlowSnake final projects, the students devise competitive gaming behaviors that fill a big void within most high school programming curricula, namely, managing the interaction of multiple objects and algorithms.
In a second-year computer course, a big year-end programming project is equal in importance to the final exam. Final exams can only ask students to read or write one algorithm one at a time. High-stakes time-pressured exams simply leave no room for large complex programs. For example, AP Java exams generally present straightforward "sentences" and "paragraphs" to analyze, not complex blocks of interrelated algorithms driving multiple objects in real time.
Here’s an English-exam analogy. On an English final, students certainly cannot read a novel or write a short story. But what would happen to high school English students if we taught only the grammar of sentences and the structure of paragraphs, never asking kids to write big final papers? Our students would cringe and fumble on their final essays in college courses, and they'd space out writing anything longer than an email at work!
For sure, writing intricate robust computer programs is just as difficult as writing compelling effective essays in a human language. Both tasks are hard to start enthusiastically and even harder to finish coherently. That’s where highly structured, fully individualized year-end programming projects come into my computer curriculum.
For me, that’s where the open-ended objects and structures of FlowSnake come in. FlowSnake VBA provides unique scaffolding upon which to develop individualized year-end projects at an intermediate programming level. FlowSnake gets your students moving and keeps them involved in wieldy programming projects they can define for themselves and share with their peers.
Sustained multi-snake debugging goes far beyond any debugging experience that can be learned, taught or tested on a final exam! Not to mention all the global project experience that can be gained by defining and refining one's own gaming requirements and specifications.
Furthermore, you can use FlowSnake programming resources year after year without kids’ projects ever repeating! That's because, within the FlowSnake capstone opportunity, second-year computer students can and will program the darnedest things!
Weigh in with FlowSnake comments at my blog: codingpraxispost.weebly.com/blog/stimulating-multi-threaded-animation-in-excel-vba.