STEMcoding listed on Ohio Dept of Education CS page!

The STEMcoding project started in 2017, around the same time that the state legislature in Ohio began discussing ways to improve computer science education in K12. That year House Bill 170 commissioned the Ohio Department of Education to create a comprehensive K12 Computer Science standards, which were published in December 2018.

With the published K12 CS standards, schools now have the guidance from the state to figure out what computer science classes should look like. Since then the Ohio Department has also released a list of Computer Science resources. We’re happy to announce that as of a October 2019, STEMcoding is listed as a resource there! The short summary there mentions various STEMcoding hour of code activities.

While this is not a formal endorsement or judgement of alignment by the Ohio Department of Education, we are happy to see our resources listed so other Ohio teachers can find it! Thanks Ohio!

NGSS alignment guide released!

More than any other document or textbook, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) has had a profound influence on science standards in the United States. The NGSS, which has a motto “by states, for states”, was created from a group of educators from over a dozen different states that met in 2012 and 2013 to iron out a set of science standards for various grade levels. Although relatively few states adopt the NGSS as their science standards, most states have science standards that are greatly inspired by the work of the NGSS. This is certainly true of Ohio, which recently updated their science standards and among the updates was a number of statements on “The Nature of Science” that was heavily influenced by the NGSS (as mentioned on the Ohio science standards page).

What kind of science-focused coding initiative would we be if we did not clearly outline how our activities align with the NGSS? Not a very good one. So to help teachers and administrators better understand how the almost two dozen activities we have developed align with various standards we created this spreadsheet.

NGSS logo

The NGSS has three connected principles. There are science and engineering practices (like mathematical reasoning — not a science standard but certainly part of scientific thinking), there are core ideas (like Newton’s laws), and there are crosscutting concepts (like creating models).

An interesting thing about the NGSS is that one of the main practices is “using mathematics and computational thinking”. Computational thinking is an important new concept that we commented on in a new paper we released in July. Even though computational thinking is still today a novel concept for schools, the NGSS in 2013 could sense that it would be an important part of science instruction. So not only is “computational thinking” included alongside mathematics as a core science and engineering practice, the NGSS standards frequently mention “computer simulations” and “computational representations” throughout. Thanks to this emphasis, the task of connecting STEMcoding activities to NGSS standards is much more straightforward than it might otherwise have been.

If this all seems a little far out and abstract, or a betrayal of traditional science instruction, it is important to remember that science and computer science are now inextricably linked. As we saw with the imaging of the black hole in M87 that was released earlier this year, the triumph of the project was the sophisticated algorithms that combined the data from all the telescopes.

The iconic image above is computer scientist Katie Bouman looking at one of the first reconstructed images from the Event Horizon Telescope, which is a collaboration of radio telescopes from across the globe. This image is a reminder that computational thinking is now as much of a core idea to science as mathematical thinking. Thankfully, the writers of the NGSS understood this as much as anyone.

STEMcoding Black Hole Videos Go Viral!

This spring we were all amazed to see the first images of gas falling into a supermassive black hole which were taken by a global radio astronomy collaboration called the Event Horizon Telescope. OSU is not part of that collaboration but many members of our department celebrated the discovery by creating educational videos on gravity and black holes with the STEMcoding YouTube channel. Launched in 2017 by Prof. Chris Orban and OSU alum Prof. Richelle Teeling-Smith, the STEMcoding project aims to help high school teachers integrate coding into their courses. Their videos are recorded at OSU’s campuses in Columbus and Marion.

On a human level, of the most celebrated aspects of the black hole image was the interdisciplinary team of astronomers, statisticians and computer scientists who worked together to develop sophisticated codes to combine the data from various radio telescopes. For the public, the black hole image is a reminder of how important computing has become to modern science. One of the most iconic moments of the story was the picture of Caltech computer science professor Katie Baumann sitting at her laptop and looking at the first results for the black hole image. The ecstatic look on her face looking at the result of many Terabytes of data analysis will surely be one of the most memorable scientific moments of 2019.

A screenshot from the Black Hole video released by the Coding Train youtube channel. Prof. Orban and grad student Amy Sardone appear in the inset.

Not long after the black hole image was released, Prof. Orban got a call from NYU arts professor Dan Shiffman who runs the wildly popular Coding Train YouTube channel. With almost 1 Million subscribers, the Coding Train is easily the most watched YouTube channel on coding. A few days before the black hole image was released, youtuber Derek Muller of Veratisium released a detailed video of what the black hole image might look like and it included a simulation from astronomers showing how light rays are deflected near a black hole. Shiffman wanted to show his fans how to build a code like that. The STEMcoding project had recently released a coding tutorial video on gravity and orbital dynamics featuring Prof. Orban, CCAPP postdoc Johnny Greco, and OSU astronomy member Amy Sardone.

Within a couple days, Prof. Orban helped Shiffman add relativistic corrections into his code without overwhelming the computing capacity of a typical laptop. Just two weeks after the black hole image was released, the Coding Train posted a video describing the code and giving a big shout out to Prof. Orban and the STEMcoding project for their help. Since that release the Coding Train video on black holes has been viewed over 85,000 times.

A screenshot from the new STEMcoding video series on escape velocity and black holes. Featured are OSU grad students Daniella Roberts and Jahmour Givans

Continuing the celebration of the black hole image, STEMcoding recently released a new coding tutorial video series on escape velocity and Newtonian black holes that is designed to fit into a high school astronomy class. CCAPP grad students Jahmour Givans and Danielle Roberts are featured in the video. Danielle is also part of @howwescience which is where CCAPP Prof. Annika Peter and her students post fun photos from their research group and travels. Teachers interested to integrate STEMcoding activities into their courses should reach out to Prof. Orban (orban@physics.osu.edu) to learn more about professional development opportunities and other resources.

STEMcoding releases 3 more hour of code activities!

We are happy to announce the release of three more hour of code activities. These are: 1. Planetoids & Lunar Descent (which are clones of the classic games Asteroids and Lunar Lander)  2. Pong & Bonk.io and 3. Pi day!

These activities have been submitted to the review process at hourofcode.com so they can be included alongside dozens of other activities on https://hourofcode.com/us/learn which is the world’s most visited website for K12 computer science education. This includes “The Physics of Video Games” activity that we submitted last year that is currently listed on https://hourofcode.com/us/learn After this activity was posted to hourofcode.com in November 2017 we received e-mails from educators from around the world who found it and wanted to know about other activities we created.

We are also happy to announce that all our new (and old) activities are now compatible with iPads! With some help from OSU’s ASC Tech and an iPad we obtained for testing from OSU’s Digital Flagship initiative, we were able to figure out a workaround for some issues related to the iPad external keyboard.

Summer Training for Teachers!

We are offering a mostly-online summer professional development course through Ohio State this July 2018. Thanks to grant funds we can offer 1 or 2 graduate credit hours for FREE to high school physics or physical science teachers who need graduate credits for their accreditation. The course will be administered through regular video chats and an online system for completing the coding activities. Ideally there would be one face-to-face meeting in Columbus or OSU’s Marion campus with each participant in the course. If you have never taken classes at OSU before there will be a $60 registration fee. The grant would cover the remaining tuition costs.

Please fill out our contact form for more information about the opportunity. Teachers can also participate for CEU credits. We will try to accommodate teachers from non-physics disciplines as well.

STEMcoding project launches YouTube channel!

Following the success of the STEMcoding hour of code activity, we are continuing to record coding tutorial videos and posting them to the STEMcoding YouTube Channel (go.osu.edu/STEMtube)    Importantly, this youtube channel features a high percentage of underrepresented groups in STEM.

Throughout 2018, we plan to regularly record new STEM-focused coding tutorial videos aimed at the high school level. Please subscribe to the STEMcoding YouTube channel or follow us on twitter to get updates on new videos!

Spike in interest in the STEMcoding project thanks to CS Ed Week!

Computer Science Education Week was December 4-10 this year, which was marked by events across the globe. As a result, many more teachers and students than usual went searching for coding activities on hourofcode.com/learn  According to the site data (see below) this increased the traffic to the STEMcoding “Physics of Video Games!” activity by about 7 times! We also got e-mails every day from educators asking for access to the lesson guides. It was a great week for the STEMcoding project!

Code.org approves the STEMcoding hour of code activity!

It’s official! the STEMcoding hour of code submission has been approved by code.org and posted to hourofcode.com where students and teachers across the country (and even the world!) will more easily find it. It joins a handful of other science-focused activities and it is essentially the first physics-focused coding activity on hourofcode.com which is the most popular computer science education page on the internet!

STEMcoding submits video tutorial for the Hour of Code(TM)!

Recently, the STEMcoding project recorded videos to accompany the first few exercises in order to submit to hourofcode.com which is a national website for computer science education. The tutorials explain the physics of video games and how to code simple but fun games for high school aged students (9-12th grade). If approved, our tutorial will be the first physics-focused set of activities on the hour of code.

Undergraduates from OSU and the University of Mt. Union star in the recordings. Try it out at go.osu.edu/hourofcode

Funding from an OSU connect & collaborate grant very much helped in creating our hour of code submission.