Unit 0. IntroductionRevision Date: Mar 11, 2017 (Version 2.1)
Summary: This lesson is a basic introduction to algorithms and the nature of intelligence. Students will play tic-tac-toe (noughts and crosses is the British version) between a “highly intelligent piece of paper” and a human. Students will explore how to create an algorithm and the concept of computer intelligence.
Source: This lesson is adapted from a lesson created by Paul Curzon, Queen Mary, University of London.
Student computer usage for this lesson is: none
A PowerPoint for this lesson is included in the Lesson Resources folder - IntelligentPaper.pptx and IntelligentPaper.pdf
Copies for student pairs of "intelligent paper directions" with tic-tac-toe directions on one side, and blank on the other - in the Lesson Resources folder - IntelligentPaperDirections.pdf
The wrap-up questions are available in the Lesson Resources folder as Questions To Consider.docx
Optional: a musical greeting card, a paper folded into a fortune teller (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_fortune_teller), a page of equations
The Python program for the optional activity is located in the Lesson Resources Folder - TicTacToeAI.py
What could make a piece of paper intelligent? (Think-Pair-Share)
(Use IntelligentPaper.pptx in the Lesson Resources folder to help deliver this lesson.)
Challenge the students by saying that you have a piece of paper that is at least as smart as any human. (Show the blank side of the paper, don't tell the students yet, but it has directions on how to play tic-tac-toe on the back.) Ask if anybody believes that this is possible.
Show students examples of "smart papers," such as:
Encourage discussion and debate, prod students to argue their point for or against intelligence, and get them to develop their own criteria and definition for intelligence. Write the class definition and criteria on the board.
Tell the class that the paper has never lost a game: it has perfect intelligence.
Challenge students to play a game against the paper. The paper is peripherally challenged (it has no arms, and thus needs somebody to do its work for it). One person represents humankind, while the other person represents the paper. Play tic-tac-toe with a partner. The paper must begin the game.
But, the paper WILL NOT LOSE.
Try letting humankind go first. (Wait and try it: The paper will lose. Why?)
Challenge students to write out detailed directions (an algorithm) that will never lose the game whether it goes first or second. Point out that algorithms are made by putting detailed steps in order (sequencing), making choices depending on the situation (selection) and repeating certain sections (iteration).
Students should use their new algorithm to play against each other. Follow the same model for the paper versus the human game.
Computers programs implement algorithms.
Computer programs carry out algorithms by controlling the computer memory, central processing unit, input and output. When we carried out our tic tac toe algorithm what did we do that corresponds to each computer component?
Central Processing Unit:
Additional Possible Activities and Discussions Time Permitting:
See if students know what a CPU is. If not, define. [
CPU is the abbreviation for central processing unit or processor, the brains of the computer where most calculations take place.
Reflection: (written in journal or discussed as a class)
How is a computer CPU (processor) similar to/different from a human brain? (both process information, can use logic and math, can follow instructions; computers only do what they are told, can work without need of food or sleep, etc.)
A human only has 1 brain but a computer can have multiple CPUs. How could a computer with multiple processors (CPUs) divide up a task like playing tic-tac-toe? (This is a good optional exercise if there is extra time, to divide up what the steps are and see if any can be done in parallel to save time. example: one processor checks rows, one checks colums to see if there is a winner)
Have students write their own definitions for the four words at the end of the presentation:
(Use PyCharm or some other Python environment to show the TicTacToeAI.py program from the Lesson Resources folder.)
Assign homework for Lesson 1-1: Provide students a copy of the “Questions to Consider” in the resources folder and assign the reading:
Blown to Bits – Chapter 1, can be found here http://www.bitsbook.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/chapter1.pdf and is available in the lesson resources folder for Unit 0 Lesson 3.
Extension: If you have extra time, have a championship contest between one set of student-generated instructions and another, alternating who goes 1st and 2nd. You can work in groups of three, with one person acting as the judge if desired.
Vocabulary entries in journals from the end of the PowerPoint presentation
Group participation in interactive activity
Writeup about a more general solution