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SIGCSE 2012 Raleigh, NC - March 2, 2012. CS Principles Panel. Jeff Gray, Ph.D. - Associate Professor Amber Wagner – Ph.D. student (former AP CS teacher) K-12 Colleague: Bill Cowles, Booker T. Washington HS University of Alabama Department of Computer Science [email protected]

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CS Principles Panel

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Cs principles panel

SIGCSE 2012

Raleigh, NC - March 2, 2012

CS Principles Panel

Jeff Gray, Ph.D. - Associate Professor

Amber Wagner – Ph.D. student (former AP CS teacher)K-12 Colleague: Bill Cowles, Booker T. Washington HS

University of Alabama

Department of Computer Science

[email protected]

http://www.cs.ua.edu/~gray


Observation teaching cs 1980s style

Observation: Teaching CS – 1980s style

  • Typical example was text-based, trivial, and uninspiring


Motivation new and exciting contexts

Motivation: New and Exciting Contexts

  • Media Computation

    • Programming in a more exciting context by manipulating multimedia artifacts

  • Robots

    • Lego NXT

  • 2D/3D Animation Environments

    • Alice, Scratch, AgentSheets


Motivation newest context

Motivation: Newest Context

  • Teen smartphone penetration around 62%1

  • Novel ways to engage through the “creative hook” and tinkering

  • “I wish I had an app for that”

  • Social networking and crowd sourcing a daily activity among teens

  • Increasing adoption of smartphones in science and medical applications

1http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/168085/nielsen-smartphone-penetration-reaches-48.html


Summary of alabama principles course

Summary of Alabama Principles Course

  • Split between BYOB (Snap!) and App Inventor

  • Readings

    • Books: Hal’s Blown to Bits, Wolber et al. App Inventor book

    • Papers: Wing’s Computational Thinking, Kramer’s Is Abstraction the Key to Computing?

  • Grades:

    • Six individual assignments (two short essays)

    • Two team projects (presentation, implementation)

    • Three exams and 7 very short quizzes


Sample projects

Sample Projects

  • Homework Examples

    • Hangman App

    • Essays: Reflective essay on student major and CS; research and analyze a computer simulation model

  • Team Projects

    • BYOB

      • Almost all were game variations (Example)

    • App Inventor

      • Rendezvous planner

      • Tornado damage assessment app for Civil Engineers

      • Textbook buying broker


Collaboration with high school peer

Collaboration with High School Peer

  • Bill Cowles, Booker T. Washington HS

  • Montgomery, AL

    • Almost exactly a 2 hour drive from Tuscaloosa

  • Shared syllabus, homework ideas, various lectures

  • Restriction on meeting times

    • Visit and talk to Bill’s class

    • Initial planning during CS4HS summer workshop in 2011

    • Weekend AP training session

    • Bi-weekly email


Things that we felt were a success

Things that we felt were a success

  • Creativity Soared

  • Team Projects Highly Collaborative

  • Diversity

    • 17 different majors across 29 students (first essay)

    • Broad interest from Freshman to Seniors

    • 13 of 29 students were women or males from underrepresented populations

  • Sustainability

    • Strong interest on campus to offer again in Fall ’12

    • 11 High School teachers in Alabama want help in pursuing an early adopter Pilot for 2012-2013


Things that did not work so well

Things that did not work so well

  • Rushed to cover all CS Principles topics in a 3-hour course

  • Recruiting issues (temporary)

  • Big Data idea never finalized(but almost ready)

  • Four students dropped the course before midterm

  • Some team project ideas were unrealistic

  • 1 case of cheating


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