How to Incorporate Computer Programming


in the Classroom Environment





Abstract The problem that we face in modern instruction is on one hand the adolescents who are in a very difficult age. This stage is usually conflictive. There is usually a lack of interest to get involved in classroom activities. On the other hand we have a traditional way of teaching where the classes can be too abstract and sometimes because of the complexity of the subject, they become boring.

One of my goals in the last two years has been to incorporate to the classroom different technologies that students usually use and at the same time like. I am referring to real life examples and hands on activities in the class.

This project is to use one of the programs learned at CAL STATE LA. during the STEER PROGRAM. The program is called Pspice.

I will teach my students how to calculate a circuit using this computer program.



The problem we are focusing on here is the lack of interest of most of the students when teachers apply traditional and old methods of teaching. Long introductions of the subjects, complemented by a long speech, make the class atmosphere really boring. As an immediate result the students show a lack of interest on the subject. The consequences



are diverse. They the students start getting behind and in a few months they start failing the class. A more dramatic consequence is students dropping school and watching it as a very boring environment. The ultimate consequence is pupils prematurely out of the classroom environment, who not only donít finish school, but if they do they are not going to continue a higher educational level.

What I have learned and observed in my short carrier as a teacher is the methods that other peers use to catch the studentís curiosity and involve them in the subject they are teaching.

I have a college who use to record important racings as NASCAR and then with the use of the computer and different technologies as DVD recording he shows them a couple of minutes of the racing as a warm up and an introduction for example to explain speed and acceleration. Other teachers try to associate real life example to their daily teaching.


First I am going to teach the students different electrical laws and concepts. The students should know how to calculate simple circuits. During the class I will show as an introduction a fifteen minutes power point presentation with the main topics that students need to know during that class. The PowerPoint presentation with its audiovisual attraction will show clear pictures, clips and formulas of the different topics. During the presentation they will learn about Ohms Law. What are the concept of a resistor and the concept of a capacitor and inductor. They will learn in different classes how to associate and add resistances connected in series and connected in parallel. I will divide the class in



different groups. By associating the students in groups I will try to associate ideas, while at the same time students maintain their individuality. I will assess the groups by answering a brief questionnaire

Each group will have to explain and show to the rest of the class what they saw in the presentation.

Later, I will teach the students how to use different computer tools and implement them to draw those basic circuits and calculate them using the computer program Pspice.

The different groups are going to be assigned a topic.

For example one of the groups has to work on resistors. They will elaborate a PowerPoint presentation of around 10 to 15 slides with this topic.

I will teach them how to design a PowerPoint presentation, by taking them once a week to the computer lab. They will learn how to insert a picture, how to put a background and how to place the same background on every slide.

They will see how to customize the animation, by flying the letters with different options (left to right or vice-versa, by flying only one word or the entire phrase) they will learn how to insert sound and how to automatically vary the time from slide to slide, or doing the variation by a mouse click or by pressing enter.

They will have time to rehears their presentations and finally present them to the rest of the class.

The other activity will be in the computer lab, where I will try to use Pspice to simulate a circuit. I will first teach them how to draw a circuit. How to draw the different electrical


parts like Voltage source, resistors, capacitors and inductors, and then try to join them building a circuit. They will learn how to ground the circuit, how to insert a piece of text as a title or clarification of certain concepts. Then I will teach them how to change values of different elements as voltage source or resistors.

Finally they are going to perform the circuit simulation. That is the main purpose of using Pspice. They will see if the circuit works. They will take note of the different values, and then they will copy the image of the simulation, that will be insert in the PowerPoint presentation.

They will save the work on disk, and they will turn it in order to be assessed.

The students after running the Pspice simulation have to calculate the circuit manually by applying different simple laws like Ohms law or Kirchoff laws.

By applying all these practical hands on activities, the students have and active participation in class. They are not the passives spectator who watch the way the teacher talks and walks across the room, but an active performer. They are the real actors of the class. They are applying the different techniques and they are learning through the system of trial and error. The circuit doesnít work; letís see what is wrong. Did I misplace a component? Letís try this way; it doesnít work either. Why donít we ask the teacher? That is the whole idea.

Investigation and participation in class with hands on activities will confer the class that special taste that makes things attractive.





PowerPoint publication by Microsoft Corporation.

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