Project Announcements at Tufts University

The DevTech Research Group at Tufts University directed by Professor Marina U. Bers, PhD is excited to announce two new NSF-funded projects.

ScratchJr is a three year partnership between Tufts University, the Lifelong Kindergarten group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Playful Invention Company to research and develop a new version of the Scratch programming language to be called ScratchJr, designed specifically for early childhood education (K-2). The current version of Scratch, which is widely implemented, is intended for ages 8-16 and is not developmentally appropriate for young children. The work on ScratchJr will provide research-based evidence regarding young children’s abilities to use an object-oriented programming language. ScratchJr will have three components: 1) a developmentally appropriate interface, with both touch screen and keyboard/mouse options; 2) an embedded library of curricular modules with STEM content to meet federal and state mandates in early childhood education; and 3) an on-line resource and community for early childhood educators and parents. The research questions focus on whether ScratchJr can help these young children learn foundational knowledge structures such as sequencing, causality, classification, composition, symbols, patterns, estimation, and prediction; specific content knowledge; and problem solving skills. For more information, please visit http://ase.tufts.edu/DevTech/ScratchJr/ScratchJrHome.asp

Ready for Robotics investigates the use of robotics into early childhood education. It address two objectives: to develop and evaluate a low-cost, developmentally appropriate robotic construction kit specifically designed for early childhood education (PreK-2) and to pilot a robotics-based professional development model for early childhood educators to teach engineering and technology. A number of research questions are included. To what extent did participating teachers gained knowledge about robotics, engineering and programming, and pedagogies? To what extent have they increased their familiarity of, comfort with, and understanding of the use of robotics in early childhood? To what extent participating in the institute can support the passage from knowledge to action? What processes/standards are used by early childhood teachers to integrate engineering and technology into their traditional curriculum? Do teachers adopt the robotics kit and curriculum for their classrooms? How do they adapt it to their own practices? What are the factors that predict successful outcomes in terms of adoption and adaptation? To what extent has the teaching practice of the teachers changed in a way that demonstrates understanding of the role of T and E in early childhood education? The first professional development workshop will be held this August! For more information, visit http://ase.tufts.edu/DevTech/ReadyForRobotics/readyforrobotics.asp

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