Computing Through Place and Story

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, 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). We adopt this storytelling approach in this project. Specifically, we examine how young people design place-based stories. Through the 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. Computing with place and story 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.