Coding for Kids 3: Think Like a Computer


Computer Coding for Kids: Think Like a Computer. A programmer must learn to think like a computer. All tasks must be broken down into small chunks
so they are easy to follow, and impossible to get wrong. Thinking like a robot. Imagine
a cafe where the waiter is a robot. The robot has a simple computer brain brain, and needs to be told how
to get from the cafe kitchen to serve food to diners seated at tables. First the process
has to be broken down into simple tasks the computer can understand. Waiter robot program
one. 1. Pick up food. 2. Move from kitchen to diner’s table. 3. Put food down. Disaster. Using this program the robot grabs the food from the plate, crashes straight through the
kitchen wall into the dining area, and puts the food on the floor. The instructions weren’t
clear: we forgot to tell the robot to use the door. It might seem obvious to humans but
computers can’t think for themselves. Waiter robot program two. 1. Pick up plate with food
on it. 2. Move to kitchen to diners table by: Move to door between kitchen and dining
area. Move to the door from the table. 3. Put plate down on table in front of diner.
This time we’ve told the robot waiter to use the kitchen door. It makes it through the
door, but then hits the cafe cat, trips, and smashes the plate on the floor. Still not perfect. The robot doesn’t know how to deal with obstacles like the cat. The program needs to give the robot even more detailed instructions so it can move around safely. Waiter robot program three. 1. Pick up a plate with food on it holding level at all times. 2. Move
from kitchen to diner’s table by: Move to door between kitchen and dining area checking
for obstacles and steering around them. 3. Put plate down on table in front of diner. Success at last? In this version of the program the robot successfully delivers the food to
the diner avoiding any obstacles. But after putting the plate down, the robot remains
standing at the table while food piles up in the kitchen. Finally the robot can deliver
the food safely but we forgot to give it instructions to go back to the kitchen and get the next
plate.

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