Tri-P-LETS (Three P Learning Environment for Teachers and Students)
University of Memphis
Over the past few years, computer science degree programs nationwide have experienced a decline in enrollments by approximately 40%. Our Project is working to counteract this trend by placing Fellows in programming classes in ten Memphis-area high schools. Fellows help design and present modules to emphasize three P foundation areas: Problem solving skills, Programming concepts, and disciplined software development Processes. To motivate students, Tri-P-LETS uses the game-authoring and simulation tool AgentSheets in first-year classes and incorporates hands-on robotics activities in intermediate classes. Students plan, design, build, and document “serious” games (e.g., a program to teach arithmetic skills, a software simulation of the geological water cycle, or an adventure game). In Java classes, students learn object-oriented concepts by programming Lego robots to complete tasks such as following a line through a maze or retrieving balls in the game BotBall. The impact of the Tri-P-LETS curriculum on female students has been noteworthy. One student, who had shown no prior interest in computer programming, attended the 2005 National Educational Computing Conference as a student representative and later went on to a summer computer programming camp. At one high school, all students in the intermediate class are female. One third of our Fellows have been female. All Fellows have participated in conference activities this year by helping to prepare poster presentations, write educational research papers, or create materials for teacher workshops.