Evidence of Computational Thinking from Circuitry Projects in the After-School Makerspace

ID: 54945 Type: Brief Paper
  1. Kevin Oliver and Jennifer Houchins, North Carolina State University, United States

Wednesday, June 26 3:50 PM-4:10 PM Location: Oost View on map

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Between 2016-2019, an after-school maker club was established at a public, all-girls school in the United States. Club members in grades 6-10 (ages 11-15) participated in three project areas tied to state and national science standards: circuitry, programmed robotics, and fabrication. Within the circuitry project area in particular, girls worked with varied conductive materials including copper foil, ink, and thread, as they produced light-up cards, posters, and pins. Additional hardware kits such as LittleBits, SnapCircuits, and K’Nex allowed girls to further experiment with circuit designs using guided projects. In this study, club mentors solicited written and videotaped project documentation from girls after they engaged in different circuitry projects. Girls responded to question prompts designed to elicit computational thinking (CT). Evidence suggests circuitry projects in the after-school makerspace are an effective means of prompting different CT processes including: decomposition, abstraction, algorithmic thinking, generalization, and evaluation. Recommendations are offered for updated prompts to better elicit CT-oriented reflections. Also, given significant overlap between the five CT processes examined, the authors recommend future researchers apply alternative frameworks with more holistic or better differentiated CT processes.

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