Integrate project-based learning in computer science today to engage, excite, and prepare students in your classroom for success tomorrow.

From simply using smart-phone applications and devices throughout the home, to pursuing new-collar jobs, students encounter aspects of computer science every day and will be required to know at least the basics when working in their careers. Incorporating project-based learning in computer science is the most efficient way to relay concepts to students in the classroom. Teachers who lay the foundation in this subject through lessons in basic programming and coding will encourage students to think bigger in terms of how they can apply these skills in the future. Educators can utilize the power of project-based learning in computer science by teaching concepts and assigning projects through which students apply these ideas.

1. Help Yourself to Help Them

project-based learning in computer scienceIn order to generate enthusiasm among students, it is best for teachers to ensure they are not only up-to-date regarding the educational aspects of this subject, but also how students are using technology. As a first assignment for project-based learning in computer science, ask students to research and write about the aspects of this subject they would most like to explore. Teachers can then move forward with an understanding of students’ computer science goals and outline a solid plan to bring these to fruition.

2. Introduce Them to Alice

Through an initiative by Carnegie Mellon University, students can access Alice, which provides free computer science education for all. Different versions of Alice exist for students to engage in project-based learning in computer science at different levels of programming. The site provides sections that offer “How Tos,” “Lessons,” “Exercises and Projects,” “Textbooks,” and “Audio Library.” The initiative focuses on 3-D animation — an attractive topic for a student of any age. Students who are first starting out with Alice should try “hello, world,” which leads students through the process of writing and running their first programs.

project-based learning in computer science3. There’s an App for That!

A fun, yet challenging way to incorporate project-based learning in computer science is to have students create an app. By allowing students to think about a problem and devise a solution through creating an application, not only will teachers cultivate an environment of innovation within the classroom, kids will also feel personally connected to the project. Tools are available for lessons covering app creation on Android and iOS.

4. Get in the Game

Games built through computer science have grown up a lot since Atari and Nintendo launched systems in the 1970s and 80s. Back then, parents might have complained about children spending too much time playing PAC-MAN and Super Mario Bros., but what they might not have realized was the foundation these games would lay for learning computer science. Use game building for project-based learning in computer science to teach basic coding principles to students. Today’s coding projects help students by offering tasks that feature familiar faces, such as BB-8 and Rey from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Frozen’s” Anna and Elsa.

project-based learning in computer science5. Don’t Forget the Pi!

One of the most basic — yet effective — tools available to teachers for project-based learning in computer science is Raspberry Pi. These basic, credit-card sized computers allow students to work with the simple elements that comprise the foundation of any device. In addition to its computers, the Raspberry Pi initiative has grown to publish a student magazine titled The MagPi, provide educator resources and workshop opportunities, and feature guest collaborators such as British ESA (European Space Agency) Astronaut Tim Peake.

Students must receive a more accessible, higher-quality education in computer science to remain relevant in a global economy. Computer science teachers must not only rely on a degree in the subject, but they must also remain educated regarding recent technological advancements in the industry and trends in education that will help students learn.

Want to increase student engagement in computer science? Download our free guide to project-based learning.

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