[Edu-sig] Programming in High School

David MacQuigg macquigg at ece.arizona.edu
Wed Dec 10 17:08:42 CET 2008

>We need lots of examples where programming is useful to non-programmers.  I already mentioned the real estate agent needing to digest some data from the property appraisers office.  For the shop teacher: How about a homeowner wanting to lay tiles, avoid wastage, and slivers that look bad along the edge.  If you know Python, it is quicker to write a little program than find one, purchase and install it, read the manual, struggle with a bunch of stuff you don't really need, and maybe not get what you want in the end.  I can think of lots of examples in engineering, but they are not ordinary problems that would seem relevant to high school students.  What we need is a collection of relevant problems, easily solved with a quickie program.

Here is another suggestion:  How about a program to predict stock prices?  We'll need maybe 1000 traders, each responding to a dozen random external events.  That will gives us a simple random walk around the mean.  Now let's make it more interesting.  Give each trader a "herding tendency" making it follow more closely what its nearest neighbors are doing.  Turn up the "herding coefficient" and watch how it makes the market more erratic, ultimately turning random walk into boom and bust.

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