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the agent man (784483) writes "A Colorado Public Radio/NPR piece describes a group of computer scientists and educators from the University of Colorado (CU) at Boulder exploring what it takes to get more girls interested in computer science. In spite of many educational efforts the participation of women in computing jobs is still low. The strategy explored by the Scalable Game Design project is to bring a game design based approach into the classroom by training teachers. The CU team's work to get girls interested in computer science is part of a large scale, long-term project to increase engagement among all underserved populations such as low income students, minorities and rural communities. Interestingly, the key to get more girls excited about computer science is not only to come up with more creative "projects" than, say, computing prime numbers, but to have teachers employ pedagogies so that the teacher and the students explore and solve the problems of creating a game together. The project has brought Scalable Game Design to schools across Colorado, as well as internationally and is collecting student-created games in an online arcade." Link to Original Source top
the agent man (784483) writes "The Hour of Code event taking place December 9-15 has produced a number of tutorials with the goal to excite 10 millions kids to code. It is really interesting to contrast the different pedagogical approaches behind the roughly 30 tutorials. The University of Colorado, Make a 3D Game, Tutorial wants to excite kids to code by focusing less on coding. This pedagogy is based on the idea that coding alone, without non-coding creativity, has a hard time to attract computer science skeptics including a high percentage of girls who think that "programming is hard and boring." Instead, the Make a 3D Game activity has the kids create sharable 3D shapes and 3D worlds in their browsers which then they really want to bring to live — through coding. There is evidence that this strategy works. The article talks about the research exploring how kids get not only excited through game design but that they can later leverage coding skills acquired to make science simulations. Try the activity by yourself or with your kids." Link to Original Source top
the agent man (784483) writes "WIRED Magazine is exploring how early kids should learn to code. One of the challenges is to find the proper time in schools to teach programming. Are teachers at elementary and middle school levels really able to teach this subject? The article suggests that even very young kids can learn to program and list a couple of early experiments as well as more established ideas including the Scalable Game Design curriculum. However, the article also suggests that programming may have to come at the cost of Foreign language learning and music. Judging by the comments this idea is not so well received." Link to Original Source top
The Sustainability of CS Education Through Game Design
the agent man (784483) writes "Researchers at the University of Colorado have been running the worlds largest study exploring how to integrate computer science education through game design in public schools. Over 10,000 students (45% women) from some of the most diverse, most isolated, toughest and poorest schools in the USA participated in making games and STEM simulations. The researchers have developed a strategy to reach an extraordinarily high percentage of students by making game design based computer science education part of existing “computing” middle school courses. Sadly these courses typically focus on rather boring topics such as keyboarding and gaining Microsoft Office skills. Instead of just exposing a handful of self-selected students in after school programs the curriculum called Scalable Game Design exposes a large number of students (in some middle schools 350 students per year, per school) to computer science. The focus of the paper presented at the 2013 SIGCSE conference and part of the National Science Foundation showcase is the exploration of sustainability. If federal grants are used to train and support teachers, how likely will it be for schools participating in the research to continue or even move beyond the goals of the training once the support stops? How many of the schools start with game design and later manage to transfer these skills to STEM simulation creation? The data collected over a period of four years and with more than 10,000 games and simulations produced by students suggests that 81% of schools have advanced beyond the basic requirement. That is, teachers and students have created more, and in most cases more advanced, games and simulations than they were trained to do. Researchers also analyzed motivational and skill data to investigate interaction between pedagogy and motivation relevant to broadening participation and to look for evidence of transfer between game design and science simulation creation. Scalable Game Design is based on the AgentSheets and AgentCubes game design and simulation creation tools." top
the agent man writes "The idea of getting kids interested in programming in spite of their common perception of programming to be "hard and boring" is an ongoing Slashdot discussion. With support of the National Science Foundation the Scalable Game Design project has explored how to bring computer science education into the curriculum of middle and high schools for some time. The results are overwhelmingly positive suggesting that game design is not only highly motivational across gender and ethnicity but even finding new ways of tracking programing skills transferring from game design to STEM simulation building. This NPR story highlights an early and unplanned foray into brining game design based computer science education even to Elementary Schools. A short story includes a nice video of students sharing their experiences." Link to Original Source top
the agent man writes "Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder are exploring what it takes to systematically get programming back to public schools. They have created a game design based curriculum, called Scalable Game Design, using the AgentSheets computational thinking tool. Annual summer institutes http://www.9news.com/news/local/article/202987/222/Teachers-play-video-games-for-science- train middle schools teachers from from around the USA to teach their students computational thinking through game design and computational science simulations.
What is truly unique about this is that it is not an after-school program; it takes place during regular school courses. Entire school districts are participating with measurable impacts, increasing the participation of women in high school CS courses from 2% six years ago to 38-59% now. The project explores new computing education pedagogies with thousands of students in diverse areas including inner city, remote rural and Native American communities. About 45% of our participants so far are female; 56% are non-white students and most of them want to continue. Educators are interested not only in the motivational impact, but also the acquisition of useful 21st Century skills. They would like to be able to ask students “Now that you can make Space Invaders, can you also make a science simulation?” To explore this difficult question of transfer, the researchers devised new mechanisms to compute computational thinking. They analyze every game submitted by students to extract computational thinking patterns and to see if students can transfer these skills to creating science simulations.