Teaching Algorithms with Board Games
Presented by: Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School
Strand: K-12 Education
At Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School, we’re using games to introduce algorithms to students in AP Computer Science Principles. We started teaching this course in the 2017-2018 school year using Harvard University’s CS50AP curriculum. In this curriculum, Harvard’s team provides videos for student instruction as well as training to help teachers use their materials. One of the projects in the CS50 course is to implement the game of Fifteen, a puzzle game with sliding tiles, as a program in ‘C’ code. The students had such a good experience with this assignment that we decided to add a creative project along similar lines. In this project, students were tasked with taking a game they already knew, explaining the rules of the game as algorithms, and implementing those algorithms in code.
Most students are familiar with the rules for many popular games that can be played on a grid of squares. Examples of these games include Tic Tac Toe, Connect Four, Chess, and Go. These games have rules that are fairly complex when expressed as computer algorithms.
Come see how our students first create presentations about game rules, in pseudocode or flowchart form, and explain them to their peers. Hear them explain how the rules of their chosen game can be expressed as a set of steps using a two dimensional array of integers along with logical and mathematical operations. Then play their computer versions of these games, with these algorithms implemented in the ‘C’ programming language.