Programming with Cups

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Happy New Year Everyone! Welcome 2017!

Last week, entrepreneurs took upon another challenge. PROGRAMMING!!!

Now many people think that programming is just words that magically tell a computer what to do. We’ll let me tell you, it’s not that simple. Through this activity, our entrepreneurs learned what it’s like to be a computer and a programmer. So for this activity every group was given:

  • 12-30 Plastic Cups
  • A paper
  • A pen

One person was given the role of the computer or “doer.” The other person was given the role of a programmer of “writer.” The students rotated these roles after every task.

Now what did they do?

The student that was the computer first started off with three cups stacked up on the side. The writer would write the code and the computer would perform it. They were asked to make a three cup pyramid using these motions:


A sample code written for a three cup pyramid looks like this:


So you must be thinking, how can you actually learn how to program with cups? This task wasn’t designed to teach students how to program. It was meant to explain the purpose of code and to get an insight on how computers actually think.

Entrepreneurs learned many skills through this activity. The writers wrote their programs, but when it came time for the “computer” to perform it, their programs were incorrect. Many of the students had forgotten to bring the hand back to the starting stack which was a major flaw. A major lesson entrepreneurs learned was how computers need to be given step by step instructions because they don’t have a mind of their own. Secondly, they learned perseverance. Sometimes their code wasn’t correct, they had to keep fixing it until it was flawless. Lastly, entrepreneurs started to think like programmers and make discoveries. They realized writing out every arrow was a lot work, so they started to write 6(x) –> which in computer science would be known as a function.

Entrepreneurs wrote great code and build great structures. They truly made works of art like a true programmer. I had a great time and can’t wait for our new activity! I’d like to thank CSED Week for this activity. It was a truly wonderful activity. For more information about GGKLI’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Club click here!

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