Yasmin Kafai Banner - Projects

 

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Creative Computing at Computer Clubhouses

The MIT Media Laboratory and UCLA are developing and studying Scratch, a new networked, media-rich programming environment, designed specifically to enhance the development of technological fluency at Computer Clubhouses, a network of after-school learning centers for youth from low-income communities, with 110 sites in 14 countries and 20,000 youth members. Scratch adds programmability to the media-rich activities that are most popular among Clubhouse youth.  We are studying how Clubhouse youth (ages 10-18) learn to use Scratch to design and program new types of digital arts projects, such as music compositions and special-effects videos created with programmable image-processing filters and animated characters. 

Read more on the Project: Creative Computing at Computer Clubhouses

Sponsor: National Science Foundation

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A Playground for Millions

Whyville.net provides free access to about 1,500,000 registered players ages 8-18.  Our investigations focused on two aspects: How do children chose to spend their time 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 afterschool clubs.

Read more on the Project: A Playground for Millions

Sponsor: National Science Foundation

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Bridging the Gap

The path toward becoming ‘Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics’ (STEM) literate has been a leaking pipeline, from the elementary schools to universities where fewer women choose and graduate in STEM majors.  Over 416 research and demonstration projects have been sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) between 1993 and 2001. Projects ranged from after-school programs to mentoring initiatives and lectures in K-12 and higher education settings. Our synthesis of these projects was guided by several questions: Who participated in these projects? How well were gender equity interventions integrated within school curriculum? How interdisciplinary were project designs? In which ways did projects target participants of economically-disadvantaged groups? What kind of STEM content and skills did project participants learn? The findings and recommendations of this study have been published by the American Association of University Women in the report Under the Microscope: A Decade of Gender Equity Projects in the Sciences (2004).

Sponsor: National Science Foundation

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Electronic Game Worlds

In this project, we describe and analyze a pedagogical intervention called learning science by design over the course of five years. Elementary fourth and fifth grade students worked in teams designing and implementing software that teaches younger students in their school about a science topic.  Teams were composed of students experienced in the project task and those new to the activity. In addition, many students had participated in these projects as third graders, the intended audience for the software, before moving in the software design activity the following year. In the first phase, we implemented a classroom model of learning through design. We analyzed students’ participation in science conversations and planning at beginning, middle and end points of the project. In the second phase, we examined in more detail one critical feature, the role of prior experience in collaborative interactions. We compared two classrooms taught by the same teacher differing in one aspect: the composition of experienced and inexperienced members in a team. The third and last phase was to evaluate the long-term impact of learning through design and how students who participated in this project for four years came to understand their own learning experience and performance.

Read more on the Project: Electronic Game Worlds

Sponsor: National Science Foundation

Learning Science by Design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Learning Science by Design

In this project, we describe and analyze a pedagogical intervention called learning science by design over the course of five years. Elementary fourth and fifth grade students worked in teams designing and implementing software that teaches younger students in their school about a science topic.  Teams were composed of students experienced in the project task and those new to the activity. In addition, many students had participated in these projects as third graders, the intended audience for the software, before moving in the software design activity the following year. In the first phase, we implemented a classroom model of learning through design. We analyzed students’ participation in science conversations and planning at beginning, middle and end points of the project. In the second phase, we examined in more detail one critical feature, the role of prior experience in collaborative interactions. We compared two classrooms taught by the same teacher differing in one aspect: the composition of experienced and inexperienced members in a team. The third and last phase was to evaluate the long-term impact of learning through design and how students who participated in this project for four years came to understand their own learning experience and performance.

Read more on the Project: Learning Science by Design

Sponsor: National Science Foundation

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Moral Kompass in Digital World

With computer and Internet changes occurring in both the technological and social domains, and problems being identified on almost a daily basis, there is a prevailing mood of uncertainty regarding how to apply rules and standards. There is confusion regarding what can be legitimately copied from the Internet, because information is available through the public domain.  There is ambiguity regarding what has been copyrighted, and most laws do not yet pertain to the "liquid intangibles of the virtual world".  Many adults in the workplace reflect this uncertainty in their responses to ethical issues, often relying on either their personal values or rules set forth by management.  Issues of fair use, copyright, and intellectual property are also appearing 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