Educational Media to Advance Computer Science (EMACS)

Twin Cities Public TV pilot project–Educational Media to Advance Computer Science (EMACS)–is a collaboration of Twin Cities Public Television (tpt), the Department of Computer Science at Carleton College, and the STEM Education Center at the University of Minnesota. The goal of the pilot project is to establish the effectiveness of a media-based instructional model to enhance high school computer science teachers’ content and pedagogical knowledge and ability to teach Advanced Placement® Computer Science Principles (AP® CSP). The EMACS Pilot will involve students in a media-enhanced exploration of infrastructure systems to increase their awareness and understanding of real-world applications of computer science and the importance of computational thinking in everyday life. Deliverables will include a standards- aligned, media-based supplementary curriculum module that promotes inquiry-driven investigation of how computer science is applied to infrastructure systems, a detailed outline of a teacher professional development (PD) program, a wireframe model of an online environment for the teacher PD experience, and a formative evaluation on the appeal and educational impact of the module on students and their teachers.

The alignment of the pilot module with the concepts and computational thinking practices that comprise the AP CSP course will be facilitated by active involvement with representatives from the College Board, the AP CSP course development team, and an external project advisory group. A selection of the seven “Big Ideas” within that framework (i.e., Creativity, Abstraction, Data, Algorithms, Programming, Internet, and Impact) will be brought to life through video and an applied programming activity. The project will employ the graphical programming environment Scratch, providing a rich platform for building simulations of infrastructure systems. Building on an award-winning track record of using video of “real kids doing real science” as a tool to foster interest in STEM and model scientific processes (e.g., tpt’s PBS series DragonflyTV and SciGirls and related learning and professional development tools), coupled with the University of Minnesota’s research on teacher training and impactful and integrated STEM learning opportunities for diverse learners, the EMACS pilot will demonstrate a new approach to support and enhance AP CSP courses. The formative evaluation of the pilot will demonstrate the potential of the model to 1) engage students and improve their understanding of applications of computer science, and 2) improve teachers’ understanding and ability to teach core AP CSP principles.

Project Website: N/A

Principal Investigator(s): Richard Hudson, Twin Cities Public Television, Siddika S Guzey, University of Minnesota, David Musicant, Carleton College, and Kathleen O’Donnell, Twin Cities Public Television