Background to Computer Club

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Computer Club was started in term 2 2003.

 

Computer Club is a weekly after school elective. It was run for years 4 to 8 in 2003 and years 5 to 8 in 2004 . In 2005 it was opened to the junior and middle schools, years 1 to 8. The multi age format has been very successful with peer-peer teaching.

 

After experimentation, 90 minutes was adopted as the optimum session time

 

Computer Club commenced with one constraint on the children: they can do whatever they want provided that the games they are playing have editable source code. This has  proved a very suitable model for an after school Computer Club and no modifications have been necessary. The students have been highly motivated and very productive as this website attests. Teachers using game programming during class time may need a more structured approach.

 

Students spend approximately half of their time just playing games: other studentsí creations or examples from www.gamemaker.nl. The other half is spent creating their own games or modifying, (hacking) other games. They also occasionally create Powerpoint animations and use educational software such as Maths Circus or Microworlds.

 

We became aware of other educators using Gamemaker in 2004 and have since established links with other schools. It turns out that Computer Club was well founded in Constructionist learning theory.

 

Computer Club is a little unusual with its focus on young children, most interest in game programming is at the secondary level as part of the year 10 to 12 IT curriculum. The closest parallel to our Computer Club that we are aware of is Reignhead Primary School http://www.reignhead.sheffield.sch.uk/games/games.htm

 

We expect that the skills learnt in computer programming will transfer to other areas, particularly mathematics. For a background on this debate, see Pea and Kurland 1984 and Papert 1987. In particular, we expect transfer of skills to the CSF Level 4 mathematics outcomes of:

 

Shape and space                                             

Location          

Mathematical reasoning                        

Strategies for investigation

 

 

Tony Forster

forster at ozonline dot com dot au

10/2/05

 

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