man wearing headphones while using computer
man wearing headphones while using computer
Photo by True Agency on Unsplash

Teaching how to create video games could be coming soon to some lake area elementary schools.

A 3.9 Million-dollar-stem-grant from the US Department of Education is being given to rural Missouri school districts in an effort to help 5th graders learn essential computer skills.

That includes computer coding and video game creation.

The project offered through the University of Missouri’s college of education, will select 47 rural school districts that currently have a high percentage of students on the free and reduced lunch program.

There will be two teachers in each school that will teach these computer coding skills and students will be provided with Google Chromebooks.

Those schools will then have to apply to receive the grant.

 

 

Giving Students the eDGE
If you are a Missouri school interested in an opportunity to join the eDGE Grant Project please read the information below and enter your contact information at this link. eDGE EIR Grant Project

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Overview

The goal of this EIR eDGE grant is to infuse computer science and mathematics education with computational thinking so that computer science and mathematics are more integrated, relevant and interesting for all students. This project aims to collaboratively design mathematics intensive computational thinking (CT) activities aligned to CSTA standards, Missouri Learning Standards for Mathematics and Science, and to develop related teacher professional development and evaluation frameworks. Students will program games and simulations that address mathematical concepts including probability, proportional reasoning, statistical reasoning, the use of local and global variables, and functions in the context of computational thinking activities. A Design Based Implementation Research methodology will be applied to iteratively develop this project as a collaboration between researchers at eMINTS, University of Missouri, University of Colorado Boulder and STEM educators in rural and underrepresented schools in Missouri.

Evidence of the intervention’s impact on teachers’ conceptions, practices and student outcomes in computer science and mathematics through a delayed treatment study design involving 40-50 schools and over 1800 students. Our vision is to scale this model for replication in eMINTS supported schools as part of our larger efforts to build strong and effective rural schools.


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Scalable Game Design (SGD) is an effective STEM model that ignites and sustains interest in Computer Science (CS),  Mathematics and STEM simulations. SGD is an accessible and highly replicable upper elementary curriculum that introduces students with no programming background to learn CT through game design using  AgentCubes Online web-based software. For example, in the first lesson, students make their own simple Frogger-like game, which they build on the Web. Students then advance to apply Artificial Intelligence concepts to make complex games and computational science applications.

As part of a collaborative STEM effort, eMINTS and SGD will create professional development that helps teachers effectively:

  1. Teach computational thinking (CT) and computer science (CS) concepts and processes to students through 3D game creation and adapting that knowledge to create science simulations using AgentCubes Online web-based software
  2. Incorporate CT objectives into their existing curriculum and align to the Missouri Learning Standards for CS, Mathematics and Science.
  3. Learn strategies for CS and STEM education using remote models of professional development that also address student distance learning needs
  4. Develop and implement lessons that focus on student centered learning in a remote or classroom environment, which will expand our understanding of how teachers can support student learning of CS and math education in various modalities
  5. Use CT assessment instruments such as the CTPA (the Computational Thinking Pattern Analysis assessment tool) to understand student learning
  6. Conduct student surveys and interviews to determine motivation for continued CS, STEM, and math related learning

This research project cannot promise any benefits due to participation in the research. However, possible benefits include increased awareness and motivation to explore careers involving math, science, technology and game design and opportunities to experience online learning and project based projects in game and simulation creation.


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In the age of COVID remote learning, student engagement and motivation have become an intense focus in the education process and this project will support that shift. Data from a previous project called oDreams show substantial increases in levels of engagement and motivation students gain through programming video games with SGD and AgentSheets, Inc online software AgentCubes OnlineStudent motivation was very high in oDreams participants with 78% girls, 68% boys, 74% minority, and 76% of white students choosing to enroll in additional computer-based game design courses.  

The primary research question for Project eDGE focuses on student outcomes, the primary domain of computer science education and STEM education as a secondary domain. Specifically,

  • What is the relative impact of teacher implementation of eDGE instructional activities on student motivation, engagement and interest in computer science and STEM? What is the relative impact of eDGE experiences on student knowledge and application of computational thinking in CS education and STEM?

An underlying challenge of the project is to determine, in the current and future K-12 education context, “How do we support and sustain upper elementary teachers in using CS education curricula with their core content in ways that support synergistic goals for computational thinking and STEM education?”

Project eDGE will innovatively combine computational thinking tools of computer science for math and science learning, project-first instruction and design-based implementation into an infrastructuring strategy to exemplify new possibilities for relevant and engaging mathematics education. Teacher professional development will be two facilitated, self-paced courses to learn the programming and mathematical connections for interactive and engaging student learning. Coaching sessions will provide teachers with support to ensure highly successful implementations. Researchers and teachers will co-develop and produce engaging activities which enable students to use programming and computational thinking to explore mathematics and science concepts at a deep level while addressing district, state and national standards for CS and STEM education.

The results from this project will inform STEM education research in the design and implementation of activities that integrate mathematics, science and computer science. For this project we will recruit high-poverty rural schools with underrepresented populations in CS and STEM where at least 40% of the student body qualifies for free and reduced price lunch. An external evaluator will assist in the determination of teacher efficacy through remote PD and virtual coaching both during and beyond the eDGE project completion.

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