Programming Languages

Computer programs are sequences of instructions that the computer must follow. There are hundreds of computer languages, but all involve giving clear and unambiguous instructions to a devices that doesn’t understand meanings.

This activity demonstrates some of the issues that arise when we try to give precise instructions to achieve a desired outcome.

Straight Path

Activity description (PDF)

Translations and other versions:

Related Resources

  • An engaging extension of the Marching Orders activity, developed by the PINY team in Seoul, Korea. As well as introducing programming, it exposes students to the idea of open-source development, and also programming language design.

Curriculum Links

Great Principles of Computer Science [info]
  • Automation
ACM K12 Curriculum [info]
  • Level I (Grades 6-8) Topic 9: Demonstrate an understanding of concepts underlying hardware, software, algorithms, and their practical applications.
New Zealand Curriculum [info]
    • Mathematics Level 1: Position and Orientation
      • Give and follow instructions for movement that involve distances, directions, and half or quarter turns
    • Mathematics Level 1: Shape
      • Identify and describe the plane shapes found in objects
    • Mathematics Level 3: Probability
      • Investigate simple situations that involve elements of chance by comparing experimental results with expectations from models
    • English Level 1: Speaking, writing and presenting
      • Recognise how to shape texts for a purpose and an audience
    • Technology Level 2: Planning for Practice
      • Develop a plan that identifies the key stages and the resources required to complete an outcome
  • Technology Level 3: Technological systems
    • Understand that technological systems are represented by symbolic language tools and understand the role played by the “black box” in technological systems.