Did you know that the first computer program was written by a woman in the 19th century – almost 200 years ago? And why do we know so little about this? In the times when Lady Lovelace lived, women did not have the privilege of access to higher education and men guarded access to the world of science, and still, even today, this great achievement of this remarkable woman is being questioned.
Meet Ada King, Countess of Lovelace and her scientist friend, Charles Babbage...
- Hand out to students printed biographies. Please read them aloud at the beginning of the class and provide some additional information that you seem relevant.
- Divide the students into groups, depending on the number of robots available. Each group should have at least two robots. If you have only two robots and the group is large, students can create stories and programs in smaller groups without robots. Later on, they would pass each other the next available robot for testing their programs.
- The first task for each group:
- read and understand the provided bios; find out more about these people on the Internet (have a look at YouTube, where you can find some interesting short videos), check the meaning of terms: The Difference Engine, The Analytical Engine, an algorithm. (Please specify a time for this task then explain the above terms for all students before moving on to the next part of the class.)
- Each group must come up with their own version of a meeting and conversation of Ada and Charles, who have just met at a ball – an event where Ada admires The Difference Engine built by Charles. The students are free to make up any scenarios of such a conversation, discussed topics but bearing in mind that it was a starting point in the history of a great friendship between these two people.
- The main task for each group is to program two Photon robots to play as Ada and Charles in students’ invented stories. Ask students to use Scratch 3.0 or 2.0 interfaces for programming. Ask them to make use of such features as sound recording and editing, built-in sensors, instruction blocks, e.g. for robot movement, changing the color of ears and eyes etc. Ask students to create a single program containing sub-programs for both robot-actors taking part in the show.
NOTE: In your introduction, please mention that the robot’s built-in sensors allow students to create programs based on interactions between the two robots (e.g. robots could start “dancing” once they “hear” music being played).
- Once all meeting scenarios and programs are ready, ask all groups to present their stories in turns.
- Remember to provide speakers if you are not using laptops.
- Additional reading for the curious ones: Ada’s Algorithm by James Essinger