Words Used with Educational Robots

This glossary explains terms used throughout Roamer’s websites.  You can explore the dictionary or discover the terms highlighted in the text.  Put your mouse on the words and the definition will pop up. Make sure you’ve enabled popups on your computer.

  • Parameter

    You will find the terms parameter, argument and variable often used in computing, mathematics and science.  Their exact meaning depends on the context.  Computer scientists use "parameter" to mean something you can add or alter within a command. Number [1  to 100] We call Number [1 to 100] a parameter. 6 We call the 6 an argument.

    We use the word variable as a general term.  The Roamer Music command has two variables: the duration of the note and the pitch.  Number to 8 is the duration parameter and Number 1 to 14 is the pitch parameter.  In Music 4 11: 4 and 11 are arguments.

  • Playing Turtle

    A child plays Turtle when they imagine themselves to be the robot.  When they move and turn like the robot they think about what they’ve got to do to make the robot to achieve a task.  It makes the Roamer an object to think with and connects students to powerful mathematical ideas.

    Tim Bell and his team from Canterbury University in New Zealand launched Computer Science Unplugged.  This is an extension of Papert's Playing Turtle idea.  It's a "... collection of free learning activities that teach Computer Science through engaging games and puzzles that use cards, string, crayons and lots of running around. We originally developed this so that young students could dive head-first into Computer Science, experiencing the kinds of questions and challenges that computer scientists experience, but without having to learn programming first." [nwsymbol] Computer Science Unplugged.
  • Port

    We call a connection that manages data flow between a computer and an external gadget a port.  Some ports, like USB Ports, can also provide power.