A project of TEACH magazine, Dystopia 2153 is an all-in-one resource that combines coding with a web-based graphic novel about a future dominated by malevolent robots. As readers progress through the story, characters encounter obstacles, and the reader has to complete coding challenges using Blockly, a block-based programing language, to move forward. As students move through the story, each coding challenge increases in complexity, with the introduction of new elements (such as loops and nested loops) that are essential to finding solutions. As with almost any coding task, students can complete the challenges in different ways, but they maximize their score by creating optimized solutions (ones that make the most efficient use of code). Chiclet, a squirrel character, provides hints to help students figure out how different blocks work or how to work through problems using creative and abstract thinking. Currently, two episodes in the story are available. The novel itself is at a reading level suitable for students in grades 4 and up, with a plot that will appeal to fans of science fiction. Subsequent episodes will have new coding challenges of increasing complexity.
In smaller rural schools, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education can face troublesome barriers. In our K–12 district of 730 students, we have many of the common obstacles, including limited funds, no extra faculty, and an already overloaded class schedule. These three join arms to block us from using any of the really cool programs we’d like to. Other institutions sing praises of cutting-edge programs and share their successes. Meanwhile, rural schools are trying to figure out how to educate equally deserving kids in STEM.
Each month we publish blogs and several newsletters full of digital learning, funding, professional growth, social media, and STEM resources. Below are items from our blogs and newsletters that educators turned to the most in May.