- bridge the gap between drag-and-drop coding games (see the wonderful stuff on CODE.org and Scratch) and traditional Intro to Computer Science courses that teach programming from a blank terminal
- use pro-level software and languages so students can continue to build upon their experiences through college and career
- increase equity and access by reaching students through core courses with activities designed that teach science first, with coding as a tool
- make it easy to implement by using intuitive, free software and fully-editable activities designed for teachers with no prior coding experience.
You’ll need to be logged in to a Google account. When you run an activity for the first time, expect to see a pop-up window warning these are hosted on GitHub (it’s totally safe, that’s why we use it). Click “run anway”.
- Intro to Coding is a 5-minute guide of how to use our activities. If you’ve never programmed before, this is a great place to start.
Earth & Space Science
- Quakes uncovers plate tectonics using seismic data.
- Global Temp examines the effect of water on global climate using data from 1880-present.
- Stars uses a huuuuuge star catalogue to look for patterns in brightness and temperature, create an H-R diagram, and see constellations.
- Tides plots 5 years of sea-level height data to study the relationship between tides, moon phase, and the seasons.
- Motion graph matching of position or velocity to model motion and practice relating algebraic equations with the graphs they represent.
- Elements looks for trends in the periodic table.
- Invariant Mass let’s you practice doing math (and the Pythagorean theorem) while you learn some basic of relativistic kinematics with data from CERN’s LHC.
- Leptonic Decays @ CMS applies conservation of charge, energy, and momentum to hunt for particles in data from CERN’s LHC; used in Quarknet’s Data Camp (grades 9-16).
Do students really need to learn how to code?
There’s increasing momentum for coding in schools and that’s a good thing. Every student should be exposed to computer programming – equal access to lucrative careers depends on it. However, a dedicated computer science course is not the answer for all (or even most) students. Math and science courses are prime territory for this task. You may be surprised to see the salaries and backgrounds of computer programmers in Central Florida, courtesy of Orlando Devs. Here are some ways my colleagues and I are making that happen. Have a question or want to contribute? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teachers have enough to cover without adding computer programming to the list. Our goal is to use computer programming as a tool to address science content - the coding is secondary. You won’t see loops and conditionals taught explicitly, but that allows non-CS-fluent teachers to use these activities with their classes. They also don’t have much extra formatting, answer keys, or explanatory text. They work well for teachers new to scientific computing and, if you’re a minimalist, can be used as-is with your students. If you prefer your students to have more detailed instructions, they’re easy to edit for a different presentation, sequence, question type, etc. Google’s Colaboratory has become our go-to platform for easy implementation in a variety of settings. It lets you run these Jupyter notebooks from any device with a browser (desktop, mobile, or otherwise). Want the raw notebook files? See the project GitHub.
The resources you’ll find here were developed by middle grades science teachers, undergrads at UCF, and me, Adam LaMee. It all started with a mini-grant from US-CMS We piloted a few activities in Seminole County, FL in 2017. That caught the eye of neighboring Orange County Schools, currently the 9th largest district in the US with around 15,000 students per grade level. Orange County students now see these activities embedded in their 6th grade and 7th grade science curriculum, with plans to add grades 8th through 12th in the coming years. Those students will have a huge competetive advantage over their peers when applying for skilled labor jobs, trade school, or university admissions. Want to do the same in your area? Drop me a line at email@example.com.
Use the activities linked above, write your own, or let us work with your team. We can also help you develop an implementation plan that suits your site’s needs and resources. My colleagues and I conduct teacher workshops and district-wide professional development on coding, physical science content, reformed pedagogy, and digital literacy. These resources are free to use and modify (with credit), but not for resale. If you’re a teacher using this with your own students, let us know how you’re implementing it (because we’re interested in that sort of thing). All others: see the license here and kick an email this way.
- My talk from the AAPT 2018 Summer meeting.
- Modified activities used by Orange County and by Seminole County schools.
- Code.org is the go-to place for fun, free activities for teachers and students to learn about coding.
- Code Academy has great self-paced courses to teach yourself a programming language or new job skill. One of my former students used it to learn Python in a weekend, got a developer job that Monday, and a year later is at a cool startup, all without a college degree. And that’s not uncommon.
- CERN Open Data includes educational resources on particle physics and offers students (and the general public) the opportunity to access and analyze authentic data for the Large Hardon Collider. Yeah, it’s pretty cool.
- Particle Physics Playground, by Matt Bellis, provides Jupyter notebook exercises with particle detector data from CMS and CLEO.
- Shawn Weatherford’s work on vPython and Glowscript.
- Let’s Code Physics YouTube channel
- STEM Coding