The InfuseCS project aims to investigate how narrative-centered maker environments can promote effective and engaging computationally-rich science learning for students in upper elementary classes. The InfuseCS narrative-centered maker environment integrates interactive science narratives with hands-on maker activities within a problem-based learning instructional model to introduce computational thinking into upper elementary science. InfuseCS enables students to collaboratively learn through solving story-centric science problems by pursuing computational model-based investigations and reflecting on their problem-solving experience through the creation of interactive science narratives. With a focus on the physical sciences, the project investigates how narrative-centered maker activities create motivating science inquiry episodes that support students in developing core computational thinking competencies.
The InfuseCS narrative-centered maker environment consists of three components that are being specifically tailored to upper elementary students using grade- and age-appropriate concepts and interfaces.
- The InfuseCS Science Problem Explorer supports students in collaborative problem-based learning centered around disciplinary core ideas in physical science. It presents students with engaging problem scenarios, while supporting them in identifying relevant facts, posing hypotheses, researching knowledge gaps, and conducting computational model-based scientific investigations.
- The InfuseCS Science Narrative Designer enables students to develop interactive science narratives through an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop interface that includes block-based programming built on top of interactive narrative planning functionalities. It enables students to incrementally develop, elaborate, and refine their stories in a rapid creative cycle, while supporting testing of their stories through its 3D virtual science narrative interaction support.
- The InfuseCS Science Narrative Maker Toolkit enables students to physically construct and connect to their storyworlds. The toolkit consists of both software and hardware components. The software component compiles students’ narrative programs to be executed on a single-board computer. The hardware components include a single-board computer, wires, and components such as LEDs and speakers.
The InfuseCS narrative-centered maker environment is being developed to run on PCs (Windows and macOS) and Chromebooks. Supporting these platforms will enable implementing the learning environment in a broad range of school contexts.