The Roger Frank Lessons
Introduction to Computer Science: GvR Unit

Programming with GvR

Programming a computer in a language like Python requires a precise sequencing of steps written in a language where details of syntax can be overwhelming for a beginner. Everything must be exactly right, and errors in just getting the program to run are frustrating. Often the output of beginning computer programs are text-based and uninteresting, at least to humans.

To get acquainted with the concepts of computing without getting bogged down in the syntax of a higher-level language such as Python, we begin by programming Guido van Robot. GvR is a teaching tool that presents the concepts in a visual way using a robot-language that is simple, yet powerful and extensible.

We program Guido, a simple robot that lives in a simple world. Because Guido and his world are a visual simulation, we can watch the effects of our programming statements. This activity is presented in a series of steps -- tutorials with accompanying mini-labs.

Step 1 Guido's First Steps creating .wld and .gvr files
Step 2 What's That Sound? beepers
Step 3 Turn, Turn, Turn sequential instructions
Step 4 Just Another Brick in the Wall world file: walls
Step 5 Do The Right Thing user-generated instruction
Step 6 Robotics Times Project
Step 7 Birthday Message Project
Step 8 Decisions if statement
Step 9 You Missed Some do statement
Step 10 Let's Dance nested user instructions
Step 11 Apple Pie or Cookies? if..elif..else statement
Step 12 Take Out the Trash Conditional Looping
Step 13 World Traveler Project
Step 14 It's Going to Rain Project
Step 15 A Job to Do Project
Step 16 Lunchbox Project
Step 17 Community Service Revisted Project
Step 18 Where to Go from Here... Conclusion


This series of Guido van Robot exercises was written by Roger Frank. Comments and suggestions about these lessons should be sent to Jeffrey Elkner, who converted them from Roger's Karel the Robot originals and who currently maintains them.

The Guido van Robot programming language is descended from two parent languages: Karel the Robot and Python. Karel the Robot was introduced by Richard Pattis in his book Karel the Robot: A Gentle Introduction to the Art of Programming with Pascal, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1981. Python is the creation of Guido van Rossum and members of the Python community. Information on Python can be found at:

GvR was developed by high school computer science students at Yorktown High School in Arlington, VA, under guidance of mentor Steve Howell.

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Copyright © 2003 Jeffrey Elkner.