Monday, February 23, 2009

Slides from presentation at Scratch@MIT conference

From the Scratch@MIT conference July 24-26, 2008

Scratch in the Interactive Journalism Institute for Middle School Students

Ursula Wolz, Kim Pearson, Mary Switzer, Monisha Pulimood, Meredith Stone

Our presentation was accompanied by a iWork Keynote presentation that included 2 videos. The media were designed for a live presentation, not for the web. Consequently these documents are large and will take time to load. They consist of:

The video introduction we did is over a half gig. A web version is also forthcoming. Email for a copy of the draft if you are anxious to see it.

Related Resources:

Cafe: Is the collaborative system we built through which the IJIMs middle school teachers and students created the interactive journalism site "F.I.S.H.". If you would like to explore how CAFE works, please send a request for permission to view the site contents to ijims AT

Is the online journal the Fisher teachers and students created in two weeks this summer! They chose the name collaboratively. The teachers helped us create the layout. The teachers and students are anxious to continue working on F.I.S.H. during the school day rather than just at twice monthly after school sessions. We are renegotiating with them how to do this. Their enthusiasm over working on F.I.S.H. far exceeded our project goals. They are able to articulate how journalism, video production and computer programming require the same set of design skills and are eager to continue to program in Scratch to facilitate journalistic goals. Enjoy F.I.S.H.

Kim’s journalism gallery: Contains examples of using Scratch for journalistic purposes. Note in particular the comment thread that has spun from the project "Effects of CO2". This kind of dialog that mixes commentary about news issues in the context of programming is exactly the kind of dialog we are looking for to entice students who would not necessarily think of themselves as "computer types" into participating in computer science. Its getting kids to think about how to create solutions to real problems (as well as illustrate them) with real computing skills.

Quicktime cand be downloaded here.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

From the BPC community meeting, Charlotte, North Carolina, Feb. 8-10, 2009

Our IJIMS project is part of the National Science Foundation's Broadening Participation in Computing Program, a national effort to enlarge and diversify the pipeline for computing professionals. While our project is fairly unusual in its focus on middle-schoolers and its use of journalism as a tool for engaging students in computer science, we are part of a national community of education, government and industry professionals who share a similar mission.

At the BPC conference, I had a conversation with Jane Margolis, an educational researcher from UCLA, whose book, Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race and Computing explores why we are still failing to attract sufficient numbers of students of color to computer science. Margolis told me that many schools are "technology rich" but "curriculum poor," partially because of a shortage of qualified teachers, but also because narrow beliefs about who is capable of being a computer scientist:

Andrew Williams is a computer science professor at Spelman College, a historically black college for African American women, who beat the odds to become a robotics engineer. Williams not only led a team of Spelman undergrads to victory in the prestigious international Robocup competition, he is spearheading a the multi-school, multi-state Artsi Alliance, which engages students from middle school through college in robotics. His book: Out of the Box: Building Robots, Changing Lives, recounts his inspirational journey.

For more information about the full range of programs funded by BPC, check out the BPC Portal.

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