STEM conference

Wil Falkner

Instructor @ Central Michigan University

Presentation Title: Powering Up Video Game Design with Block Coding (Scratch and Snap!)
Abstract: With computing technology touching almost every aspect of our life it is becoming more pragmatic in all professions to learn basic programming language. Block coding has proven to be a very effective method for teaching inexperienced coders the basics of the craft. In this hands-on workshop, two dual-year participants from the Research Experience for Teachers program at Central Michigan University funded by the National Science Foundation would like to help you get started with block coding in Scratch. Educators will be guided through the basics of Scratch (no prior knowledge required) and will have online access to their working video game upon completion of the session. Teachers will understand that block coding makes coding more accessible to students; Scratch and Snap! are free online coding programs schools can utilize in many subjects; Scratch basics are very easy to learn and have many available resources; Snap! Can be used to transition students out of block coding to Python for implementation on Raspberry Pi computers; and many students are already using block coding. Teachers will be able to program basic commands in Scratch’s block coding; walk away with a game that is their own that is accessible online; and locate resources online for block coding. In this hands-on workshop, participants will learn about the logistics of video game design. The attendees will be introduced to block coding and provided with online resources for future projects. They will be shown how there is a natural progression between Scratch, Snap! and other high level languages (such as the Python needed to program on Raspberry Pi computers). Participants will be able to follow along on their computer to create a simple video game from the ground up on Scratch. Participants will be able personalize their game and access it online.

Biography: Holly Ylitalo teaches developmental mathematics courses at Lansing Community College. Previously, she was a tenured K-12 instructor. Holly was educated in mathematics and computer science teaching at the University of Michigan-Flint, earning her BA and then her MA in Educational Technology. After participating in the RET program at Central Michigan University last summer, Holly accepted a position teaching STEM in the Ashley Community School District. She has since developed a STEM program for the district and led her students in a variety of enriched learning experiences. Wil Falkner is a teaching assistant, curriculum designer and education researcher at Central Michigan University specializing in gamification, game-based learning and other forms of nerdery as it pertains to science education. Following an engineering-focused RET program at CMU, Wil has facilitated several STEM camps introducing engineering and coding to a variety of students. Wil has received a BS in Ed from CMU in Integrated Science and Biology and is currently a master’s candidate at CMU’s College of Science and Engineering.