This week is Computer Science Education Week! The annual event encourages students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 to explore coding, with a focus on increasing representation among girls, women, and minorities. The event honors the life of computer scientist Grace Hopper, who broke the mold in the 1940s as a programming pioneer. Coding and computer science events are occurring in schools and communities around the country to celebrate the week.
This week is also a great time to highlight the computer science and engineering projects that are coming to Washington, DC for the 2020 ED Games Expo at the Kennedy Center on the evening of January 9, 2020. Developed with the support of the Institute of Education Sciences and other federal government offices, the projects provide different types of opportunities for students to learn and practice computer science and engineering skills with an eye toward examining complex real-world problems.
At the Expo, expect to explore the projects listed below.
- In CodeSpark Academy’s Story Mode, children learn the ABCs of computer science with a word-free approach by programming characters called The Foos to create their own interactive stories. In development with a 2019 ED/IES SBIR award.
- In VidCode, students manipulate digital media assets such as photos, audio, and graphics to create special effects in videos to learn about the coding. A teacher dashboard is being developed through a 2019 ED/IES SBIR award.
- Future Engineers uses its platform to conduct STEM challenges for Kindergarten to Grade 12 students. Developed with a 2017 ED/IES SBIR award.
- Fab@School Maker Studio allows students to design and build geometric constructions, pop-ups, and working machines using low-cost materials and tools from scissors to inexpensive 3-D printers and laser cutters. Developed with initial funding in 2010 by ED/IES SBIR.
- In DESCARTES, students use engineering design and then create 3-D print prototypes of boats, gliders, and other machines. Developed through a 2017 ED/IES SBIR award.
- In Ghost School, students learn programming and software development skills by creating games. In development with a 2018 Education Innovation and Research grant at ED.
- In Tami’s Tower, children practice basic engineering to help Tami, a golden lion tamarin, reach fruit on an overhanging branch by building a tower with blocks of geometric shapes. Developed by the Smithsonian Institution.
- In the Wright’s First Flight, students learn the basics of engineering a plane through hands-on and online activities, then get a firsthand look at what it looked (and felt) like to fly it through a virtual reality simulation. Developed by the Smithsonian Institution.
- In EDISON, students solve engineering problems with gamified design software and simulate designs in virtual and augmented reality. In development with support from the National Science Foundation.
- May’s Journey is a narrative puzzle game world where players use beginning programming skills to solve puzzles and help May find her friend and discover what is happening to her world. Developed with support from the National Science Foundation.
- In FLEET, students engineer ships for a variety of naval missions, test their designs, gather data, and compete in nationwide naval engineering challenges. Developed with support from the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research.
- Muzzy Lane Author is a platform for authoring learning games and simulations without requiring any programming skills. Developed in part with a Department of Defense award.
About the ED Games Expo: The ED Games Expo is the Institute’s and the Department of Education's annual public showcase and celebration of educational learning games as well as innovative forms of learning technologies for children and students in education and special education. At the Expo, attendees walk around the Terrace Level Galleries at the Kennedy Center to discover and demo more than 150 learning games and technologies, while meeting face-to-face with the developers. The Expo is free and open to the public. Attendees must RSVP online to gain entry. For more information, please email Edward.Metz@ed.gov.
Edward Metz is the program manager for the ED/IES Small Business Innovation Research program.
Christina Chhin is the program officer for the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education research program.
Computational thinking is a critical set of skills that provides learners with the ability to solve complex problems with data. The importance of computational thinking has led to numerous initiatives to infuse computer science into all levels of schooling. High-quality research, however, has not been able to keep up with the demand to integrate these skills into K–12 curricula. IES recently funded projects under the Education Research Grants, the Small Business Innovation Research, and the Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Education Interventions programs that will explore computational thinking and improve the teaching and learning of computer science.
- Greg Chung and his team at the University of California, Los Angeles will explore young children’s computational thinking processes in grades 1 and 3. The team will examine students’ thought processes as they engage in visual programming activities using The Foos by codeSpark.
- The team from codeSpark will develop and test a mobile game app for grade schoolers to learn coding skills through creative expression. The game supports teachers to integrate computational thinking and coding concepts across different lesson plans in English Language Arts and Social Studies.
- VidCode will develop and test a Teacher Dashboard to complement their website where students learn to code. The dashboard will guide teachers in using data to improve their instruction.
- Lane Educational Service District will work with researchers from the University of Oregon to evaluate the impact of the district’s Coder-in-Residence program on student learning and engagement.
IES is eager to support more research focused on exploring, developing, evaluating, and assessing computational thinking and computer science interventions inclusive of all learners. IES program officer, Christina Chhin, will speak at the Illinois Statewide K-12 Computer Science Education Summit on September 20, 2019 to provide information about IES research funding opportunities and resources focusing on computer science education.