PROJECTS

 
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bioMAKERlab

bioMAKERlab is a wetlab starter kit and activities that will enable high school students and teachers to engage in synthetic biology by building genetic circuits that let microorganisms change color, smell, and shape. In synthetic biology, participants make their own DNA—gene by gene—and then grow their designs into real applications by inserting them into microorganisms to develop different traits and characteristics provided by the genes. The project will involve students from a Philadelphia public high school and young people participating in weekend workshops at The Franklin Institute, a Philadelphia-based science museum.

 
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Stitching the Loop

The goal of Stitching the Loop is to broaden and deepen the computer science knowledgeable citizenry by attracting more girls and students from ethnically and economically underserved groups. We are developing and piloting a computer science curricular unit for high school students based on electronic textiles, which are fabric-based crafts made with conductive thread, microcontrollers, lights, sensors, and other electronic components. Because of their links to traditional crafts and fashion, electronic textiles have a broad appeal among young people. By leveraging the successful introductory Exploring Computer Science curriculum that is currently taught in high schools across the country, this project will reach thousands of underserved students.

 
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Gaming Beyond the Screen

 
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Scratch

The MIT Media Laboratory and UCLA develop and study Scratch, a networked and media-rich programming environment designed to enhance the development of technological fluency among children ages 8-18. Scratch adds programmability to the media-rich activities that youngsters are increasingly engaged in at both school and home. Scratch allows youth to be no longer simply consumers of such media but producers as well, creating their own animations, art, and music in the process of learning the basic components of programming, such as conditionals and loops. Scratch is available free of charge at: www.scratch.mit.edu

Funding: National Science Foundation

 
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Computer Clubhouse

Computer Clubhouse is a network of after-school learning centers for youth from low-income communities. Currently with over 100 sites in 14 countries and over 20,000 youth members, the Computer Clubhouse offers children a place to learn and socialize with the latest media-rich software. We are studying how Clubhouse youth (ages 10-18) become creative designers, act as mentors to each other, and participate in the growing online community.

 
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Whyville

Whyville is not only one of the leading virtual worlds geared for youth ages 8-18, but a remarkably popular site where youth can learn the elements of basic science through a variety of online games. Our investigations focused on how tweens learn the practices and norms of how to play in virtual worlds two aspects: How do children chose to spend their time at Whyville and how they do they become engaged in science on Whyville? We were particularly interested in two events: the annual outbreak of a virtual epidemic, called Whypox, and related vaccine sales and trades. Our observations captured players’ interactions online and offline in classrooms and after-school clubs.

 
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Moral Kompass in Digital World

Given the ever-changing face of the Internet and computers, in general, computer and Internet new social and technical problems arise on almost a daily basis, and there is a prevailing mood of uncertainty regarding how to apply rules and standards.  What can be legitimately copied and repurposed from the Internet, given the plethora of information is available through the public domain? These issues of fair use, copyright, and intellectual property are not only a challenge to adults butalso appear in classrooms, as computers play an increasingly prominent role in children’s education. This set of research studies investigates how children, pre- and in-service teachers, parents, and school administrators judge appropriate uses of the computer and Internet, understand each other’s moral reasoning, and deal with everyday issues involving ethical uses of the computer and Internet that occur on a daily basis in the classroom. Sponsor: UCLA Academic Senate