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Engaging Elementary Students in Computer Science Education Through Project-Based Learning

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

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July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Student Division Technical Session 2

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Vanessa Elizabeth Santana Purdue University

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Vanessa Santana is a graduate student of the STEM Education Leadership program at Purdue University. She can be reached at

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Scott R. Bartholomew Brigham Young University

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Scott R. Bartholomew, PhD. is an assistant professor of Technology & Engineering Studies at Brigham Young University. Previously he taught Technology and Engineering classes at the middle school and university level. Dr. Bartholomew’s current work revolves around Adaptive Comparative Judgment (ACJ) assessment techniques, student design portfolios, and Technology & Engineering teacher preparation.

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As interests and initiatives for accessible computer science education continue to grow, efforts to integrate computer science (CS) instruction into K-12 classrooms in the US are dramatically increasing. Curriculum, legislation, and standards across the nation are quickly evolving as they seek to incorporate CS instruction and related concepts into classrooms in order to make computer science education accessible for all K-12 students. In the state of Indiana specifically, each public school is required to include computer science in the school's curriculum for students in grades K-12 beginning July 2021 (SEA 172 (2018)) (making it one of only seven states with formal statewide computer science standards). This paper describes an effort to provide students and teachers with a developmentally appropriate and engaging project to satisfy this legislative mandate and introduce young students to related CS concepts within a classroom setting. We describe the 13-week in-class project-based program, including its modules, sequencing and present a student’s lived experience through the intervention as they designed, built and automated model clubhouses. Within the classroom setting, students were eager to show off their designs and talk about how they overcame various setbacks, obstacles, and difficulties along the way. An emphasis on these types of challenging activities and the results of this intervention may provide insight into students’ perceptions of, and abilities related to computer science and related skills, which can aid educators in understanding how to best-prepare students for future success as technologically literate citizens, while helping move them towards a greater interest and engagement in computer science.

Santana, V. E., & Bartholomew, S. R. (2021, July), Engaging Elementary Students in Computer Science Education Through Project-Based Learning Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37044

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