Digital Playground Exploring Mathematical Thinking
Polyup is a free digital programming environment—designed for mathematics and computer science classrooms—which translates abstract mathematical concepts and exercises into physical form. The gamifiedenvironment uses the building blocks of mathematics as its syntax so that it is accessible for a wide array of K–12 students. Polyup introduces and reinforces a range of skills, including problem solving, order of operations, sequences and series of variables, functions, computational logic, and algorithms. The environment capitalizes on students’ emerging interest in “modding,” or modifying the software and hardware of products (such as video games, toys, and robots) to change their functionality—by connecting their computational thinking skills to real-world modding applications. The flexible platform provides a variety of activities and exercises varying in length—from five minutes to one hour—which can easily be incorporated into the classroom environment. Polyup is developed by a team of mathematics and informatics education researchers and physicists with significant input from math teachers.
Each year the American Computer Science League (ACSL) organizes a computer science or programming competition for precollege students in five divisions—Senior, Intermediate, Junior, Classroom, and Elementary. A preliminary competition, in which individual students compete to get their school team qualified for the All-Star Contest, consists of four contests, each of which has two parts: a written section (called “shorts”) and a programming section.
When students ask, “How does that work?” they can easily find out on the JigSpace platform. Using the app (for iOS), students can view step-by-step interactive 3D breakdowns of complex ideas, objects, and phenomena.
The nonprofit Khan Academy has launched Khan Academy Kids for early learners (aged 2–5). The education app includes thousands of original activities, books, videos, and lessons, and combines subjects such as math and reading with creative activities.