Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Welcome to CSESI 2008: Activity + Reflection => Learning

jd's picture

Well, another year has passed, and we return to Haverford to again engage is activities and discussion (and two meals a day!) to explore the use of computing and the role of computing in K-12 education, especially but not limited to the sciences.

 Last year I literally blurted out the title "Virtual Thinking," and it stuck to the point that many look at this year's workshop as VT2 -- however, I am hoping to suggest a more meaningful title, especially looking at the topics, so I am hoping to start a (long and deep) conversation about the use of reflection in conjunction with some activity/exercise to "induce" (produce?) learning.

 Day 1 will start again with my colleague Paul Grobstein looking at the use of the virtual playing field of computation and simulation to generate actual changes in the brain (i.e., learning in the real world).  I love hearing Paul lecture, he is the complete opposite of my style: deliberate, measured, reflective.  Dora Wong will also visit in the afternoon to explore all the topics she could not get to last year :-).

Day 2 will be a visit from Monisha Pulimod to discuss Scratch.  It will "feel" like Alice, with some distinctions (and I hope to learn about how to use this effectively myself).

Day 3 is my good friend Tom Cortina, who is flying in from CMU to talk about one of my favoriate approaches, if only for the title -- CS Unplugged.  It's very popular at SIGCSE, and if we're lucky Tom might even touch on some of the topics he covers at CMU's CS4HS.

Day 4 will be my old friend Dan Falabella who will show how one uses media computation to get students to think about computing.

Day 5 will be my turn, looking at how I use music and songs and lyrics to reinforce computing concepts in a less formal way -- hey, I cannot compete with magic, but at least there will be singing in the aisles!

Please check back and share your thoughts here or otehr appropriate places at Serendip.


Sunila D Gorde's picture

Chemistry project.

 CHEMISTRY PROJECT: Story book of elements. 

Create an online story book for the elementary students.

Be as creative as possible. (Use Alice or Scratch) 

1. Choose an element from the periodic table. 

2. Write its source. 

3. Write its symbol, atomic number, and atomic mass   number.

 4. Write two physical properties of the element. 

5. Write two chemical properties of the element. 

6. Write two uses of the element. 

7. Include a glossary.

Hemant Mishra's picture

"Reality": Construction, Deconstruction, and Reconstruction

Ambiguous Figures

"Reality": Construction, Deconstruction, and

Ambiguous Figures


Ambiguous figures have long fascinated artists, children, and others who enjoy surprises. But ambiguity is not only the province of the artist or the enjoyer of novelty. It is present and has significance throughout all of life.

All inputs to the brain, whether man-made or natural, are, to one degree or another ambiguous in the sense of allowing form multiple interpretations. All input is ambiguous and what we see is always only one of many possible constructions that can be made from that input.

On this page are several illustrations where the ambiguity of input is particularly striking, including both images by artists and photographs. Click on the images to see larger versions, and practice noticing that input always has multiple interpretations.

The two bottom images link to animations. An animation associated with the cube in the lower left may help give you a more direct feeling for the brain actively switching between alternative interpretations. An animation associated with the construction sign illustrates that ambiguous figures have more than two interpretations, and links to an interactive exhibit you can use to further develop your skill at seeing multiple different interpretations.

Additional examples of ambiguous figures elsewhere on the web are linked below.





More Resources

Hemant Mishra's picture

Between Reality and the Virtual:Education in the 21st Century

Computers and Education: Teaching Virtuality

Between Reality and the Virtual:
Education in the 21st Century


Paul Grobstein
23 June 2008

(notes for a talk in the Computer Science Education Summer Institute)


Questions to start

  • What role do computers and the internet/web play in education today?
  • What role will they play in the future?
  • What role should they play?
  • Your thoughts ...


  • Real world versus virtual worlds
  • Computing/internet web: adjuncts to traditional education versus opening for new/better educational practices
  • Education as mastery versus education as development of inquiry skills

Acknowledging the virtual in "reality"

The computer as tool for inquiry education, comparable to telescopes/microscopes Learning in/from virtual worlds Bottom line of this story
  • The line between reality and the virtual is becoming, will continue to become increasingly blurred
  • Students need (have always needed?) to acquire increased sophistication in working in the space between reality and the virtual ... in virtuality
  • Computers and virtual worlds have an important role to play in enhancing such sophistication
  • Computer models, like any other subject of exploration, need to be approached as incentives for inquiry rather than as answers
Your thoughts?