Computer science is still a gender-imbalanced field. Outreach efforts in the form of classroom visits, summer camps, and more appear to be helping. Inspired by this, we are designing Gram’s House to reach an even larger audience of middle school girls than is possible in person.
In our vision, what is needed to solve the problems of under-representation and lack of CS interest comes one step before engaging with programming: to let students understand what CS is about and what its relevance is to our society. This requires a focus on high-level principles in CS, including algorithmic thinking, rather than the low-level programming existing technologies focus on. This coupled with a known preference for puzzle games among our target audience is why we chose to focus on puzzle games. Showing the player how computer science can be used to make a social difference through our story is also key.
Our research questions for this project center on how to change the perception of computer science among middle school girls, how to use puzzle games to teach real computer science concepts beyond logic and programming, and how and why we should create the game’s puzzles procedurally.
The Gram’s House project was started by Gail Carmichael, who lead the development of an early prototype for Microsoft’s Imagine Cup competition. Later, Carolee Stewart-Gardiner worked with students to develop additional prototypes, which she then piloted alongside the original game with a group of middle-school students. Today, the GrACE sub-project focuses on procedural generation of puzzles that teach computational thinking while the StoryTeach sub-project looks at the role of story in teaching computer science concepts through classroom games.
Betty Gee and Kelly Tran from the StoryTeach team will be leading a workshop, “Games to Teach Computer Science Concepts,” on Saturday, November 7th, at the Arizona Science Teachers Annual Fall Conference in Phoenix. The conference attracts hundreds of science teachers from around the state. Betty and Kelly will provide an overview of the games and […]
The StoryTeach team has recently had two posters accepted for presentation at GenderIT 2015 and Games, Learning, and Society Conference 11. Carolee Stewart-Gardiner presented a poster outlining how we chose the three computer science principles to teach in our games at GenderIT 2105 in late April. Using CS Principles as a guide, we settled on […]