4.1. Unit Overview

This unit focuses on animation, simulation and modeling. The LightsOff app introduces 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, introduces the concept of modeling. The activities in this unit build toward EU AAP-3 as students learn that models and simulations use abstractions, such as a pseudo random number generator (PRNG), to represent real world situations, in this case, the flipping of a coin; Students learn how PRNG algorithms are used to model randomness inside a computer, such as with the Coin Flip app; Students 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; Students learn how one’s privacy is impacted by developing technology and computing innovations; and students learn the economic, social and cultural effects of computing innovations, such as real world models of the weather and the solar system.

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