Computer Science LearnITWithMrC ⛯ Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 GCSE
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Lesson 5 - Introducing Variables

Flowcharts and sequencing

Software can be used to create sequences in a flowchart, to view onscreen simulations.

Examples include:
  • Flowol
  • Logicator
  • Crocodile Clips

Basic flowchart symbols

Name Symbol Usage
Terminator

Starts or stops a process.

Input or output

An input is data received by a computer. An output is a signal or data sent from a computer.

Process

An instruction or a command.

Decision

A decision, either yes or no. For example, a decision based on temperature that turns a central heating system on or off.

Line tool

Connects the symbols. The arrow indicates direction.



Flowcharts and sequencing

Software can be used to create sequences in a flowchart, to view onscreen simulations.

Examples include:
  • Flowol
  • Logicator
  • Crocodile Clips

Basic flowchart symbols

Name Symbol Usage
Terminator

Starts or stops a process.

Input or output

An input is data received by a computer. An output is a signal or data sent from a computer.

Process

An instruction or a command.

Decision

A decision, either yes or no. For example, a decision based on temperature that turns a central heating system on or off.

Line tool

Connects the symbols. The arrow indicates direction.



control

Variables

Computer programs use variables to store information.

Variables could be used to store the score in a game, the number of cars in a car park or the cost of items on a till. They work in a similar way to algebra, where a letter in your code can stand for a number.

subroutine symbol

Task 1 - The Big Wheel

  • Learning Objective - I can explain what a variable is and explain why variables are used.

lighthouse flow chart

Getting Started

  1. Open the 'Big Wheel' mimic from the mimic menu in Flowol.
  2. Explore what the mimic can do by clicking on the inputs, outputs and motors on the Status Panel.

Take some time to understand the four different inputs.

Button 1 and Button 2 are normal inputs but, when the wheel is rotating, you may notice that the Steps input flashes on each time a seat passes over the steps. Also, if you click on the Gate with the left mouse button you will find that the Gate input comes on when the gate is shut.

The Steps and Gate inputs are called virtual inputs. They cannot be changed by directly clicking on the mimic, but are changed by features within the mimic itself.


Activity 1


To attract the crowd, use the Button 1 input to control the lighting effects on the wheel's frame. This might be a simple on/off routine but flashing sequences are more exciting. Use subroutines.

save

Activity 2


Use the Button 2 input to control the simple Go/Stop movement of the wheel. You could perhaps make the wheel speedup and slowdown in stages by changing the motor power.

save control

Activity 3


Modify activity 2 to include the safety feature of the gate so that the gate must be closed before the wheel will start (i.e. both Button 2 and Gate are on). The wheel should stop if either Button 2 is turned off, or the Gate is opened (i.e. if either Button 2 or Gate are off).


Activity 4: Adding variables


Use variable x to count how many times the ride is used. This could be done either by adding the increment Let instruction to the existing flowchart from Activity 3, or by creating a separate flowchart, as shown here.

control save

Activity 5: Stopping the Wheel automatically


Construct this counting program to increase the variable y each time a seat passes the steps, i.e. each time the virtual input goes off and on.

Since there are 7 seats, each rotation of the wheel should increase the variable y by 7.

Now modify your program by introducing a decision symbol, to stop the wheel automatically after it has rotated 3 times.

control

Activity 6


Now that you have learned how to use the Steps input, create a subroutine which rotates the wheel and stops briefly at each of the seven seats for passengers to get on or off.

Call this subroutine twice; once at the beginning to load the wheel with passengers, and then at the end to unload.


Extension Activity: Changing the Speed of a Motor with a Variable


To keep passengers safe the wheel should gradually speed up and slow down.

While it is possible to change the speed with a sequence of Output symbols with speeds of 10%, 20%, 30% etc. it is much more compact and reusable to employ a variable.

Create the new variable s and use a speed of s% in the output symbols in the subroutines.

When running the program, observe the Wheel motor in the status panel. The size of the bar indicates the speed of the motor.

control

Update your objectives

control

You should now be able to assess yourself against your objectives:

  • Learning Objectives

  • I can explain what a variable is and explain why variables are used.
  • I can develop a control solution for a system that uses variables.


  • Learning Objectives

  • I can explain what a variable is and explain why variables are used.
  • I can develop a control solution for a system that uses variables.

Flowcharts and sequencing

Software can be used to create sequences in a flowchart, to view onscreen simulations.

Examples include:
  • Flowol
  • Logicator
  • Crocodile Clips

Basic flowchart symbols

Name Symbol Usage
Terminator

Starts or stops a process.

Input or output

An input is data received by a computer. An output is a signal or data sent from a computer.

Process

An instruction or a command.

Decision

A decision, either yes or no. For example, a decision based on temperature that turns a central heating system on or off.

Line tool

Connects the symbols. The arrow indicates direction.