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09:00-10:00 Session 10: Plenary 3
Location: Main Auditorium (2 fl)
Report from the Future: The Next Generation High School
SPEAKER: Brian Harvey

ABSTRACT. The US government kicked off a “next generation high school” project with a week of events in November, 2015. I attended the National Science Foundation forum “Next Generation STEM Learning for All” November 9 and the White House “Summit on Next Generation High Schools” November 10.

There is a lot of good news for constructionists from these events. The emphasis is overwhelmingly on project-based learning, and at least some of the featured model schools talk about the importance of learner-chosen projects and of public display of the results.

There is also some bad news: First, the “next generation” narrative presents the 20th Century as if it were nothing but rote learning, ignoring the strong progressive education movement that started several centuries (or, in some views, millennia) ago. Second, more importantly, the narrative is posed entirely in terms of job requirements—the 20th Century had factory jobs, but the 21st Century has information jobs—as if job training were the sole, or at least main, purpose of education.

10:45-11:00 Session : Break
Location: 2nd fl open space
12:15-13:00 Session : Lunch
Location: Cafeteria (5 fl)
13:45-14:45 Session 14A: Papers: Early Childhood
Location: Main Auditorium (2 fl)
Inquiry Based Learning Project: a study of doing science with elementary public school students

ABSTRACT. The Inquiry Based Learning Project (Project ABInv) was developed with the objective to study the implementation of an inquiry-based learning approach, so that teachers and students could be engaged in "doing science", using features of the laptop in a 1-1 situation. The project was developed in three public schools and the results described in this article refer to the work developed in one of them. The project focuses on the professional development of teachers and administrators, to enable them to be able to integrate the laptops using inquiry based pedagogy across elementary school subjects.

The methodology used was action research. The university researchers worked with the teachers to encourage and assist them so they could appropriate the laptops according to this new inquiry based approach. It was an ongoing and in service training process which allowed the teachers to continue to work with their students, implementing investigations and using these experiences to debug theoretical and practical concepts about this pedagogic approach. The work developed by the teacher in the classroom followed her lesson plan, although the questions to be investigated were proposed and selected according to the interest of the students. To answer these questions the students had to do experiments, document the results and, based on the results, to come up with answers for the questions.

The results showed that students from first to fifth grade were able to perform investigations on various topics. The first grades were interested in how Brazilian native Indians produced dyes to paint their bodies, as shown in Figure 1a; second grades investigated the legs of the Tuiuiú bird, symbol of the Pantanal region – the fact that the legs bend backwards, different from humans, as shown in Figure 1b; students from the third grade studied the environmental conditions necessary to maintain an organism alive, such as the chrysanthemum plants (Figure 1c); fourth grades investigated organic and inorganic garbage decomposition over time and in different conditions, as Figure 1d; and students from the fifth grade were interested in the conditions for the growth of different plants, particularly bean, lettuce and onion seeds. They did a pilot experiment on the growth of beans (Figure 1e) to determine which type of soil was most adequate to use in their investigation.

The Project promoted the development of the inquiry based learning approach, using the laptop’s resources in different situations. It had a great impact on the teachers, students and the school community. Also it allowed the team of university researchers to work with schools and deeper their understanding about the use of technologies in a very innovate situation.

13:45-14:45 Session 14B: Papers: New Tools & Activities
Location: Library (9 fl)
Constructionist Learning at the Group Level with Programmable Badges
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. This paper reports on early-stage design research oriented towards engaging groups of learners in computationally-rich constructionist activities. The work we present here focuses on computer science (CS) instruction, but the approach is applicable across Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. To enable constructionist learning at the group level, we have created a new computational tool: a programmable and open-hardware electronic badge. In collaboration with Parallax, Inc., a leading educational robotics company, we are developing these badges as a research platform that foregrounds social and interactive dimensions of learning. In this paper, we introduce the CCL-Parallax badge, outline our design motivations, situate the badges within constructionist literature, and describe some of our early activities using them, which fall into three broad categories: embodied participatory simulations, computational systems simulations, and social and distributed maker activities.

Integrating programming languages with web browsers

ABSTRACT. Logo, Snap!, NetLogo, ToonTalk, and many other programming languages can run in modern web browsers without the need for plugins or installation. This paper is about the new possibilities this opens up: the integration with the wide range of functionality that browsers afford. Browsers support geometric transformations, animation, web storage, events, flexible styling, 2D and 3D graphics, drag-and-drop, multi-media elements, peer-to-peer communication, disability modes, cameras, microphones, and other sensors. Third-party libraries offer cloud storage, cloud publication, translation to over one hundred languages, and interfaces to social media sites. A web interface to a programming language and environment can be implemented as web pages whose layout and styling can be customised for different users and contexts. Very different “looks and feels” can be created by users relying only upon HTML and CSS. Customised versions can be embedded into pages to produce interactive tutorials and documentation. This paper describes ways that a programming language can exploit the web ecosystem. This is illustrated using ToonTalk Reborn, the web version of ToonTalk, as an example. ToonTalk Reborn is tightly integrated with browser elements, events, and styling. Any HTML element can be added to a ToonTalk web page and controlled by ToonTalk programs. Google Drive has been integrated to support sharing and publication of ToonTalk programs. Over one hundred language versions are available due to integration with Google Translate. Drag and drop to and from web pages and other applications supports sharing and saving programs, as well as importing media.

13:45-14:45 Session 14C: Papers: Working with Teachers
Location: Constructionism Lab (10 fl)
Teaching Computer Science Teachers: A Constructionist Approach to Professional Training on Physical Computing

ABSTRACT. With the integration of physical computing into computer science curricula in K-12 schools, there is a need for professional development of teachers in this topic area. This article discusses design principles for professional development workshops and reports about practical experience. In particular, the paper describes the development of six principles that were successfully used in planning a workshop on physical computing. The workshop’s aim was to empower teachers with wide interests to implement physical computing in computer science classrooms. The workshops’ design allowed each teacher to follow his or her personal objectives, to gain hands-on experience in a constructionist learning environment and to reflect on their experience with their colleagues.

Preparing teachers for the Digital Technologies Curriculum: Preliminary results of a pilot study
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. The Digital Technologies (DT) curriculum in Australia, particularly at primary school level, has been considerably expanded in the recent past from the teaching of digital literacy to the teaching of the skills necessary to create and innovate with digital technologies. The concepts of computational thinking, systems thinking and programming are part of this new curriculum. This paper presents the theoretical perspective, methodology and preliminary results of a research project, currently being run to explore different pedagogies for teacher preparation. The objective of the project is to pilot a research informed strategy for teacher preparation for the DT curriculum and articulate terms of best practice. To do so we are using as a test case a group of teachers participating in a Computer Science 4 High School (CS4HS) initiative at our institution. We hope that by sharing our experience and methodology, we can receive feedback on how to improve on the second phase of this project, and find ways to increase collaboration with other teacher educators.

14:45-15:00 Session : Break
Location: 2nd & 9th fl open space
15:00-17:30 Session 15A: workshop
Location: Library (9 fl)
Considering approaches to research through the lens of constructionism
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. This workshop provides an opportunity for the community to discuss and debate the methodologies and methods used in constructionist research, critiquing existing approaches in relation to both pedagogy and philosophy of constructionism. While there may be numerous texts on conducting educational research, there has been little consideration of how pedagogical theory or philosophy should inform a researcher’s approaches. In this workshop, constructionism is the lens through which we explore methodology, methods and tools. We explore several ways in which the process and outcomes of learning through constructionist activities can be uncovered, considering the role of approaches such as design research, randomised control trials and case studies, and looking at data sources such as interviews, data logs, artefacts and observations. The aim is to construct both individual knowledge and a communal understanding of the opportunities and tensions of the approaches we use and the process being studied and is suited to all those with an interest in researching constructionist learning experiences.

15:00-17:30 Session 15B: workshop
Location: Constructionism Lab (10 fl)
LevelSpace: Constructing Models and Explanations across Levels
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. In this hands-on workshop, we will introduce participants to the recently released LevelSpace NetLogo extension. By using LevelSpace, it is possible to programmatically open NetLogo models from inside NetLogo, essentially treating models like agents. This has a wide and interesting applications for modellers, curriculum developers, and researchers interested in eliciting and studying complex systems and how people reason about them. We will introduce the LevelSpace extension’s programming primitives and how to use them by building connected model ecologies. We will talk about the different kinds of ways that phenomena might be connected, and how to model that using LevelSpace. We will also discuss our experience with using LevelSpace in classrooms, and discuss best practices for using it as a tool for studying student reasoning within and between complex phenomena.

15:00-17:30 Session 15C: workshop
Location: Meeting Room 605 (6 fl)
New Frontiers in Educational Robotics with the Raspberry Pi and the GoGo Board
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. This workshop will offer a hands-on demonstration of how small embedded-computers such as the Raspberry Pi can offer new possibilities in educational robotics. We aim to demonstrate (A) how off-the-shelf peripherals can be utilized, allowing learners to use devices like webcams, GPS, SMS Air cards, and Wifi in ways that would have been too technical before. (B) We will present the GoGo Board, which snaps on top of the Raspberry Pi and allows the Raspberry Pi to control motors and read sensor values. (C) Programming will be done using Tinker, a new graphical environment that integrates the various components into a single straightforward platform.