In this code activity, students are introduced to branching, one of the critical decision-making constructs in computer programming, often implemented as an if statement. If statements determine whether a condition being tested is True or False, and will execute different statements on that basis.
The theme of this activity is Taxonomy - the process of classifying species in Biology according to their key features. The classification of a species is often phrased in terms of whether a feature is present or not present -a dichotomous (or binary True/False) comparison.
In this activity, students will use the programming language Python to build a simple biological specifies classifier based on the physical features and characteristics of different species.
In this unplugged activity from the Australian Computing Academy, students design an algorithm to classify living things and create a visual representation in the form of a decision tree. This activity would work well as an introduction to the topic, and prepares students for the project at the end of the coding activity.
Biologists, like all scientists, use data they collect from experiments and observations to test ideas and learn new things about the world. As more data becomes available, analysing that data so that you can draw conclusions about it becomes more difficult to do manually.
Being able to write computer programs to access, manipulate and process data allows you to test your ideas against larger amounts of data. This allows for simulations to be built, new questions and hypotheses to be developed, and for new solutions and products to be designed. Many scientists now spend more time analysing their data than they do conducting their experiments. To do this efficiently, they need to work out how to represent their data so they can write code to analyse it. Some good examples from biology include how geneticists are able to analyse DNA by representing it as text strings, and being able to determine how diseases can spread throughout a population so they can design a suitable strategy for preventing further outbreaks.
What other examples of ways in which programming is transforming the work of scientists can students think of or find?
Use drag-and-drop blocks to write your own programs, learn about sequence and ordering, and create fun monster characters!Start coding now!
Use the programming language Python to build a friendly chatbot called "Eliza". Can she fool your friends into thinking she's a human?Start coding now!
Use the programming language Python and instruct a turtle to draw flags from around the world! How many countries do you know?Start coding now!
Use the programming language Python and instruct a turtle to draw fantastic snowflakes with code! Brrr, is it getting cold in here?Start coding now!
Build programs using friendly blocks and instruct a turtle to draw fantastic snowflakes with code! Brrr, is it getting cold in here?Start coding now!
Get started with the BBC micro:bit. Use the Python programming language to make a pet that you can feed and play with! No micro:bit required.Start coding now!
Get started with the BBC micro:bit. Use friendly blocks to make a virtual pet that you can feed and play with! No micro:bit required.Start coding now!
This activity is designed to introduce branching. Use the Blockly version of Python and its turtle module to draw and colour hydrangea flowers!Start coding now!
Ever wanted to create your own emoticon? Use the programming language Python to explore emoticons and text manipulation.Start coding now!
Use the visual programming language Blockly to investigate space and reach for the stars.Start coding now!
Use the programming language Python to model a disease outbreak. Can you solve the curious case of the glowing nose?Start coding now!