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Solution: Grades 1 to 5

Learning objectives:
The lower school computer science curriculum is aimed at moving the students away from simply interacting with educational software to using simple programming languages and packages to create their own programs. This change will be very gradual. The students will go from using simple educational software to using graphical computer programming languages like ToonTalk to languages that take text-based commands and give graphical feedback, like Logo. After this, students will be introduced to a software application like Game Maker that will teach basic object oriented programming techniques with a simple drag-and-drop interface, thus removing the need to learn a complex programming language. The use of all this software will be complemented by exercises that do no involve the use of machines. Examples of such exercises are given in the specific activities section.

Furthermore, the students will have weekly class periods using software programs such as The Incredible Machine and The Incredible Toon Machine, which explore critical thinking and puzzle/problem-solving techniques. Building complex machines out of simple everyday objects conceptually translates well into how programming works; almost all arbitrarily-complex programs are built from a core set of data structures and functions acting on those structures. Additionally, other supplemental software will be used to teach science concepts and basic reasoning skills. For example, Deluxe Crayon Physics and Armadillo can be used to teach physics concepts.

Alignment with existing criteria:
At this stage, it is still important to relate computer science topics to the accompanying curricula of the other core subjects. At the beginning, the concepts will be taught at such an abstracted and simple level that the students will most likely not even understand that they are in fact learning computer science and programming concepts. The subjects that will most lend themselves to integration with the proposed computer curricula are math, geometry, and science. As explained in one Logo study, the addition of computer science as a core class at this stage will be particularly effective for children "because it is a treasury of accessible, colorful and active mathematics. For introducing children to mathematical science, it is unmatched in terms by any other resource. We choose to think of computer science as the modern geometry, but a thousand times more vivid, varied, engaging, and open to exploration. Mathematics, the language of science, and its principle modern branch, computer science can be presented to children in these grades in wonderfully engaging and active ways, emphasizing their role as the language of science and technology" (Fellows).

1st grade: Finish using packages like GCompris. Move on to using ToonTalk.

2nd grade: Play with Deluxe Crayon Physics and introduce the Logo programming language.

3rd grade: The Incredible Toon Machine and more Logo.

4th grade: The Incredible Machine combined with GameMaker to create simple games.

5th grade: Use Armadillo to introduce physical science. Then, students will make extensive use of GameMaker or other alternatives to create more sophisticated games. In the case of GameMaker, the students eventually will be introduced to the GameMaker scripting language. The last half of the year will be used for a team-based game-creation course culminating with a final competition. The competition does not have to be technical in nature; for instance, it could be used to generate educational software for younger students, as in the Kafai study.

Early Acquisition of Computer Science · ©2008 Justin Solomon and Peter Rusev