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Build a Playground!

By Fran Trees

A playground is generally described as an area designed for children to play freely. Oftentimes playgrounds include jungle gyms, see-saws, overhead ladders, sandboxes and various other recreational equipment that can help children develop physical coordination, strength, and flexibility, while they are playing with their friends, enjoying the activities, and improving their social skills.

Let's bring that playground inside! Why not host a computer playground day?

Imagine three to five clusters of computers. Each cluster is a different type of "sandbox" designed around a theme: Alice, Scratch, Robotics, Game Maker, Greenfoot, or any other fun way to look at computer science and programming. Each sandbox has a playground supervisor who can introduce the activity, instruct, and help out when needed.

Previous blogs have presented great ideas for outreach. The playground can be outreach to different types of populations: high school students, middle school students, elementary school students, computing teachers of all levels, administrators, or parents.

Gather your local teachers who have experience with the activities. Try contacting local colleges, universities, community colleges, or your local CSTA chapter for support and resources. Offer activities that can introduce the "children" to computer science in an enjoyable way while they are playing with their friends, enjoying the activities, improving their computer skills, and learning something about the programs that you offer.

Be creative with your playground but offer structured play activities in each sandbox so the "children" aren't at a loss and so that everyone has a great time, learns something, and with a smile! Those "children" may become our strongest supporters!

So, host a computer playground day for your local ___________s? You fill in the blank! Have a great time! And then tell us about it!

Fran Trees
CSTA Chapter Liaison

Comments

What a great idea! At my school's open house the engineering teacher had some toy's for the students to play with. I was thinking that I should have some of my computer science students showing parents and students how to use Alice or Scratch during open house. After reading your post, however, I think I will create some structured activities for my students to use at open house next year!

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