We explore how to support teaching and learning of computational thinking (CT) practices in interdisciplinary, age-appropriate contexts. To prepare youth to be computationally literate in a digital world economy, two key approaches have emerged aiming to make text-based programming more widely applicable, accessible, and age-appropriate. Growing evidence, however, shows that a third approach of leveraging storytelling can make programming more accessible as well as increase interest in computation, especially for girls and younger children (Kelleher, Pausch, & Kiesler, 2007; Ryokai, Lee, & Breitbart, 2009).
Our narrative-based approach to programming as an alternative to these current block-based or tangible interfaces is called StoryCoding, through which students code mobile, location-based games and stories that meaningfully connect to personal, local, or national people, places, issues, and events using programing tools that leverage the vocabulary of storytelling. Through the StoryCoding design process, students conduct rigorous inquiry on a topic often using or generating primary data and sources. They then engage in an iterative design process to build a computational artifact with augmented-reality (AR) technologies. StoryCoding is an inherently integrative activity that brings together STEM and computer sciences practices in a range of other disciplinary contexts like social sciences and humanities, which draw on narrative as part of their core practice.