4.1. Unit Overview

This unit focuses on animation, simulation and modeling. The LightsOff app introduces you to the idea of computer simulation with a computational variation of the traditional Whack-a-Mole game. The Coin Flip app, which extends over several lessons, will introduce you to the concept of modeling. The activities in this unit build toward understanding how programmers use abstractions, such as a pseudorandom number generator (PRNG), to represent real world situations in programs, in this case, the flipping of a coin. You will learn how PRNG algorithms are used to model randomness inside a computer, such as with the Coin Flip app. Then, you'll extend the app model to represent different types of coins, including a biased coin and a three-­sided coin. This is followed by an experiment lesson where an app that repeatedly “flips” a coin is used to assess the quality of App Inventor’s PRNG; At the end of the unit, you'll learn how one’s privacy is impacted by developing technology and computing innovations as well as learn and explore the economic, social and cultural effects of computing innovations, such as real world models of the weather and the solar system.

Technical Terms

Below is a table of all of the technical terms that you'll learn in this unit. You will find a vocabulary section similar to this at the end of each lesson. Hover over the terms to review the definitions. You'll be able to practice your knowledge of the vocabulary with a quizlet at the end of the unit.
MIT App Inventor
fair coin
Computer Science Principles
data privacy
data security
data storage
mod operator
modular arithmetic
overflow error
Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
random number generator
General Computing
assembly language
fetch-execute cycle
machine langauge
random event
instruction counter
instruction register

4.1.1. Self-Check

Q-1: Identify 1-2 vocabulary terms from the table above that you know and define them in your own words. If you don’t know any of these words yet, that’s ok! Instead, write 1-2 sentences on how you plan to practice learning the vocabulary for this unit.

Q-2: Identify 1-2 vocabulary terms from the table above that you have heard before but don’t know the definition for.

Q-3: Identify 1-2 vocabulary terms from the table above that you don’t know but want to learn in this unit.

4.1.2. Reflection: For Your Portfolio

Answer the following portfolio reflection questions as directed by your instructor. Questions are also available in this Google Doc - you will be prompted to make your own editable copy.