Run simple programs that involve variables and assignment on a computer made of students.
Students with boxes act as variables as values are copied between them following the instructions of the program. You physically demonstrate the creation of variables, how accessing a variable involves taking a copy of its value, and how storing values in a variable destroys any previous value stored.
The key thing is to think of a variable not just as a box but as a box with integrated shredder and photocopier. This unplugged activity reinforces this metaphor.
This session comes with linked activity sheets and ‘story’ write-ups that you can download:
- Activity: Box Variables [PDF]
- Slides: Box Variables [PPT]
- Booklet: Computing without computers [PDF]
This activity works well on its own but can naturally be used with the Assignment Dry Run Activity.