Programming in the Classroom

At the DENSI2012 conference, David Warlick opened on July 23rd with many thought provoking topics. The main points ruminating afterward are that education needs to be:

  • responsive
  • provoke questions and curiosity
  • open ended with opportunities for conversation
  • make it possible to safely make mistakes

Sounds easy enough (and fun for teachers & students).  Are there great tools to allow students to ask questions, problem solve creatively, and safely make mistakes?

During the keynote, David introduced Scratch.  Scratch is a programming language made by MIT which makes programming accessible to anyone. Chris Betchler says in his blog that students,

“really seem to engage with the big ideas of programming – problem solving, thinking mathematically and using logic and reasoning. It’s the practical application of those ideas and the creative thinking required to solve authentic problems that forms the basis of a truly engaging learning experience.  While I don’t believe that everyone necessarily needs to become a computer programmer, I do think that everyone would benefit from learning the basic skills and mental gymnastics required to write simple computer programs.  I’ve found it to be an incredibly useful skill”.

Alice is another programming game.  “Alice is an innovative 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web.”1

Making a programming activity a part of your weekly classroom routine will provide valuable collateral learning that can be applied in the curriculum and will motivate students while they are learning.


Storm Chasing

The DENSI2012 Summer Institute opened with Reed Timmer (@reedtimmerTVN) of Storm Chasers fame.  Be sure to look through his website as he has set up so you and your students are able to track storms live or view the live video weather cams.

If you look up exuberant in a thesaurus, all the adjectives describe Reed and his passion for meteorology.  He is such a good sport, shown at the right posing with Kathy Schrock before his presentation.

Reed TImmer & Kathy Schrock

In his presentation, titled The Science of Extreme Storm Chasing, we got a glimpse of the excitement and seriousness of his work.  His true passion is what inspires me most.  While working with teachers and students, being able to find ways to light a fire of passion about a subject is the ultimate goal.  Children love to wonder, this naturally connects to the STEM subjects.  Give them access to inspired people and their research and chances to experiment to find their own passion.

Thank you for inspiring me and others!


What will you chase?!?!