CREATIVE APPROACHES TO COMPUTER SCIENCE EDUCATION 

Creating and studying new learning experiences and technologies to answer questions about how computer science education can be playful, interdisciplinary, and creative. 

Partner Organization: Laboratory for Playful Computation

As a student in a typical classroom, your experiences with subjects like biology, art, music, and computer science are usually isolated from each other: Sculptures are made in art class, observations of the natural world happen in science, and if you're lucky enough to have the resources, coding an online game might happen in computer science.

The Laboratory for Playful Computation is a research group at the University of Colorado Boulder directed by Ben Shapiro that aims to break down these disciplinary barriers (and to do research on the pros and cons of breaking these barriers) by creating learning experiences, tools, and technologies that enable students to develop and investigate their own ideas about how the world works. I joined this lab as a graduate research assistant because I wholeheartedly believe in its mission and values:

learning can be joyful and creative, young people have ideas that our educational system should value and nurture, seemingly opposite disciplines can be combined in powerful ways to understand the world around us.

As a research assistant in this lab, I support our work in many different ways. Much of my work focuses on an NSF funded project that explores interdisciplinary and hands-on approaches to computational environmental science education in middle and high school. The work I do for this project varies, but in general I am responsible for the following:

  • Co-develop transdisciplinary educator professional development experiences around biology, computation, and fabrication 

  • Prototype automated greenhouse environments

  • Explore affordances of various types of electronics and coding environments to collect and analyze garden data 

  • Support educators in designing and implementing this project in their classrooms

Additionally, I was fortunate enough to work on an incredible project called "Luminous Science". This project is the PhD work of Laboratory for Playful Computation member Lila Finch who describes Luminous Science as this: 

Luminous Science is a curricular approach that supports transdisciplinary learning between art, science, and computing. Students participating in the Luminous Science approach create dynamic representations from sensor data obtained from a classroom garden in order to investigate and explore the biological phenomenon. The representations students create are uncommon to both science and art classrooms because their representations can simultaneously be an artistic expression, an investigation into the phenomenon and materials, and a scientific model.

I supported Luminous Science work in the following ways:

  • Supported educators implementing these projects in their classrooms

  • Collected, logged, and analyzed data for academic publishing

  • Supported the development of curriculum and lesson plans

  • Designed a cohesive brand and design scheme for PDF lesson plans

  • Developed graphics and photographed materials and artifacts for lesson plans and website content.

Related Experiments and Work

Making Paper Circuits with Interplanetary Festival Visitors

Experiments with block-based coding

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