Engaging Youth in Computational Thinking Practices Through Designing Place-Based Mobile Games About Local Issues
Interactive Learning Environments
In response to a need to equip youth to become successful contributors to our growing digital economy, educators and researchers are exploring ways to incorporate computational thinking (CT) for all across curricular domains. In this paper, we take a place-based approach to examine how and what CT practices youth learn through designing mobile games in and for their own communities. We conducted three after school workshops with 29 participants (13 female, 16 male, ages 10–16) in a rural city in the Western United States. Youth designed place-based, mobile games to share stories and experiences about local environmental or civic issues using the Augmented Reality and Interactive Storytelling (ARIS) programming platform. We collected and analyzed a range of data including field notes, design artifacts, screencasts, and final reflective interviews. Using Brennan and Resnick (2012) framework for studying and assessing the development of CT, we illustrate how youth engaged with CT practices and how their local topics facilitated their engagement with civic issues beyond the screen. Findings demonstrate how youth can engage with CT practices and their local communities through designing computational artifacts. We discuss implications for how leveraging place-based computational tools afford equitable and accessible CT integration in interdisciplinary contexts.
Litts, B.K., *Lewis, W., & **Mortensen, C. (2020). Engaging Youth in Computational Thinking Practices Through Designing Place-Based Mobile Games About Local Issues. Interactive Learning Environments, 28(3), 302-315. doi: 10.1080/10494820.2019.1674883