CS92 Project Pool and Initial Project Descriptions

Spring, 2001 -- Brown University
January 25, 2001 -- Blumberg

K-12 Education

Higher Education (Brown University)

Post-Graduate Education

School: Vartan Gregorian Fox Point Elementary School
Teacher: Ellen Lynch
Audience: ESL Kindergarten "math"
Project: Ms. Lynch would like a program to introduce her students to the concept of fractions. Although the RI math standard in Kindergarten is for the students to understand just "1/2", she would like something that extends student understanding to thirds and fourths as well. This program might or might not be combined with one that uses estimation to develop students' number sense up to 30 (which is another Standard for Kindergarten students). Possible tools include Hyperstudio, Director, and Authorware.
Comments: Ms. Lynch's students have limited skills in English and perhaps the greatest challenge of this program is to create something that does not rely on English text to convey the concepts and offer exciting exercises for the students on the computer. Last year's project for Mrs. Lynch's class, "Buzz!" was also about math, and was a great experience for her students and for us.

School: Vartan Gregorian Fox Point Elementary School
Teacher: Claudia Pietros
Audience: Grades 3-5 Art
Project: Mrs. Pietros would like a program that surveys the historical and cultural uses of Masks across various world cultures, such as Native America, Africa, the Far East, and Europe. This might be a program students would use independently as well as in a teacher-directed whole group setting. The program would be rich in visual imagery, and would allow for various kinds of creative manipulation, in order for students to compare/contrast design principles and uses of masks across cultures. Possible tools include Hyperstudio, Director and Authorware.
Comments: The students who worked with Mrs. Pietros in 1999 found it an inspiring experience, and they produced a wonderful program called "Building Blast!". A new challenge to this project will be to find creative ways to assess students' understanding of the material in addition to presenting it in engaging ways.

School: Vartan Gregorian Fox Point Elementary School
Teacher: Cheryl Anne McElroy
Audience: K-5 Science Students
Project: Ms. McElroy would like a program to introduce her students to the fundamental concepts involved in the classification and study of rocks and minerals. The program would give students a sense of the wide variety of ways in which rocks are used and how they help people learn about the history of the world. Knowledge of how rocks are classified (e.g. sedimentary, igneous, etc.) would be integrated into a presentation that stresses the way rocks are used, and might take the form of a game. The program might include simulations difficult to present in class or on paper, and would be used both in small groups and by individual students to reinforce their understanding. Possible tools include Hyperstudio, Director, Authorware and Java.
Comments: This is challenging project both because of the variety of grade levels that need to be able to use the program successfully, and because the program must be an engaging source of understanding as well as a practical tool for reinforcement of students' knowledge of rocks. The subjet matter and materials are great and could be greatly enhanced by interesting multimedia design.

School: Vartan Gregorian Fox Point Elementary School
Teacher: Pam Stegner, Mari-Ellen Boisclair and Susanne Gordon
Audience: Grades 4-5 Media Smart! After School Club
Project: The Media Smart! program aims to engage students in activities that develop "media literacy," a critical approach to cultural and digital information that makes students more aware of issues like point-of-view and interpretation. Students would use the program to understand, interpret, analyze and produce messages in a variety of forms, and might be enaged to do this by a game format or a character-assisted exploration. Five Questions of Media Literacy are at the core of this program and will be reinforced by the exercises. Possible tools include Director and Authorware.
Comments: This is a project with a well-formed curriculum and a nicely focused audience, and the challenge will be to make something that helps students understand and develop media literacy in a way that builds on the classroom activities in the after school program and takes advantage of the computer's multimedia environment.

School: Providence Children's Museum
Teacher: Robin Meisner
Audience: Ages 6-10
Project: The Museum's upcoming exhibt, Planet Police, is targeted at 6 to 10-year olds, and their adult caregivers, and aims to build an awareness and understanding that, basically, it takes stuff to make stuff, and as there is really no such thing as "away", people should always be thinking about making stuff from old stuff! As part of the exhibit they would like a type of recycling game that would combine the style of "Where in the World is Carmine Santiago?" with the subjec to trash. The idea is for the children to have an interactive adventure that shows how the choices they make (both good and bad) influence what ends up in the landfill and what goes on to lead another life. For example, in buying food for a lunch box you could buy lots of little juice boxes or a big bottle of juice and a reusable container - what are the consequences if you buy the juice boxes? They're looking for a detective game/choose-your-own-adventure that explores the world of reducing, reusing and recycling. Possible tools include Director and Authorware.
Comments: We built the Rima the Rat program years ago for the Museum's City Streets exhibit, and it was a good experience for the 92 students and the Museum. This is a project that offers a more focused audience and message, but nonetheless a formidable challenge to create a program that will engage and educate children in the (challenging) setting of a busy museum environment. An added bonus here is the chance to develop the program as the exhibit itself is taking shape.

School: Save The Bay
Teacher: Betsy Dickenson and Dave Prescott
Audience: Grades 5-9
Project: The educators at Save the Bay would like an interactive program for their web site that would introduce the concept of a watershed, and give students an idea of how their home watershed connects to Narragansett Bay. The program would also be used by Save the Bay in their classroom education programs. They would like students to understand the basic concepts of how water drains off the lands surrounding Narragansett Bay into the Bay itself. Because it is an abstract and experiential/visual concept, watersheds are often confusing for young students, and yet the multimedia interactive environment of the computer might be used to convey the concept(s) with ease. The program would teach students the geography of their own watershed, how it is connected to their everyday lives, and how to assess the state of a watershed. Curricular materials include maps that could be turned into interactive exercises and simulations. Possible tools include Director, Authorware and HTML/Java.
Comments: A well-focused project with some very good material. Obviously the challenge will be to get the language and level of presentation(s) right, to make engaging explorations for different age groups, that teach and reinforce what are difficult scientific and social-scientific concepts.

School: Nathan Bishop Middle School
Teacher: Tom Hoffman
Audience: 7th grade Computer Science
Project: Mr. Hoffman has 8 workstations, mostly Pentium 133s, running Linux in his classroom, and he would like a "kid-friendly" configuration tool for the open source Window Manager, IceWM (see www.icewm.org). The current tool, called IcePref (written in Python, using GTK+), is too difficult for his students to use, and he is looking for something that will not only allow his students to create their own computing environment but learn about what is going on in the computer when they make decisions about backgrounds, icons, etc. The proposed program would allow a seventh grader to easily customize his or her IceWM desktop, which includes previewing and selecting background picture and/or animations, the theme of the buttons and windowframes, and possibly what extra buttons are available on the toolbar. Possible languages include C++ and Python
Comments: Not exactly instructional software, but the goal is to create a open source configuration tool that facilitates customization by, and teaches something about how the computer works to, 7th graders. For hackers and/or those with commitments to Linus and/or Open Source, this will be a challenging project indeed.

School: Nathan Bishop Middle School
Teacher: Janet Rankin, Brian W. Sheldon, and Nancy Nowak
Audience: Middle School Materials Science
Project: This project is a collaboration between two Brown Engineering professors and a teacher at Nathan Bishop. The goal is to produce computer software that can be used to help middle-school students begin to understand the relationship between the atomic structure of certain "real life" materials, and their observable (mechanical) properties and behavior. They envision interactive software that will allow students to change the materials properties of certain simple machines and components, and will then allow them to observe the impact of the changes on the behavior of these systems. Ideally, they would like students be able to participate in computer-based design contests: optimizing their virtual systems subject to design and performance criteria specified by their teachers. The general idea is to develop virtual "machines" that are instructional and entertaining. One example would be an environment that would allow explorations based on what can be done with/to a diving board. The behavior of the board depends on its dimensions and materials properties (i.e., density, stiffness, and fracture limitations), but also the weight of the diver. Choosing the wrong materials can result in a board with no "bounce" or a board that breaks, and users of this program might be able to "click" on the microstructure of a particular material chosen for the board, both before and after a jump by a particular diver. Possible tools include Director, Authorware and HTML/Java.
Comments: This is a challenging project from both programming and pedagogical perspectives. The curriculum is solid and the teachers are very cool and dedicated, and this is a unique kind of collaboration between faculty in K-12 and higher education that should result in excellent instructional software.

School: The Moses Brown School
Teacher: Flossie Battle
Audience: 7th grade history students
Project: The Middle School at Moses Brown has begun an initiative to address and help their students deal with issues of body type and body image in the culture and in the media. As part of Ms. Battle's history classes, which incorporate the Facing History philosophy (see facinghistory.org), students learn about how ideas of physical perfection have been used to justify oppressive regimes and racist principles, and how measurements of physical features has played a role in some of the most terrible movements of the 20th century. She would like a program that presents a context for thinking about the measure and mismeasure of physical perfection, and that allows her students to load and analyze images, measure various physical features in the images and compute ratios between these measurements. The goal is to motivate students' thinking about body type, measurement, and physical norms, and to allow them to make comparisons and observations based on the images they've selected and the measurements and ratios they've computed. Possible tools include Director, Authorware and HTML/Java.
Comments: This is a rare and interesting project that integrates the study of history, along the lines discussed in Gould's Mismeasure of Man, with a practical concern for adolescents struggling with issues of body type and self-perception. The challenge will be to create a program that is both instructive and flexible enough to allow for student explorations.

School: Brown University
Teacher: Joseph Hallett
Audience: Young pregnant women, ages 16-24
Project: Poor neighborhoods usually receive their health care through clinics and these clinics have less and less money to hire physicians to care for patients, in particular pregnant teenager girls and pregnant adult women (who may or may not speak English). Yet this population is one that needs very much to learn how to have healthy and safe pregnancies. Dr. Hallett would like a program that would provide the information that clinics provide to pregnant young women, evaluate acquisition of information without repeated testing, and identify those who aren't learning so that short-handed clinic staff can focus their attention on these most at-risk cases. The program must be able to run on computers with modest speeds and memory capacities. Possible tools include Director and Authorware.
Comments: As a project in community-based education this program could have great and important impact. It poses a number of design challenges, including how to provide information to people of different ages, with different language skills, in a way that is authoritative without being patronizing (or boring).

School: Brown University
Teacher: Dev Sinha
Audience: Undergraduates in Linear Algebra (MA52)
Project: In his linear algebra course, Professor Sinha has an innovative way of teaching affine transformations in the plane that involves the introduction of fractals. Trying to develop students' geometric intuitions about these transformations he introduces fractals encoded by collections of affine transformations. The encoding is essentially through the fact that such transformations actually determine the self-similarities of the fractal. Another way of saying this is that by identifying different subsets of the fractal image that "cover" the fractal, one actually defines the fractal uniquely. The project calls for the creation of a program to be accessed via the Web that allows students to visualize affine transformations and to generate fractal images by manipulating parameters of the transformations. The software produced will not only be a teaching tool but a tool for creating fractal art. The likely environment for this project is HTML/Java.
Comments: For students interested in mathematics, this is a fascinating project. You will be implementing procedural code provided by Professor Sinha, but the questions of how best to design and manage the interactions in the program are quite challenging, and the the drama of fractal images provides great opportunities for an effective engaging program.

School: Brown University
Teacher: John Stein
Audience: Undergraduates and Medical students in Bio 80
Project: The topic for this program is cardiovascular physiology (CV) and specifically the physics of fluid movement through the system of tubes (arteries & veins) and the pump (heart). There are a number of factors that effect flow, pressure and resistance in the CV system at any given time. To assist students in keeping track of these factors a somewhat complicated graph is produced where changes in several factors can be visualized and quantified. There are at least 7 important physiological measures that are reflected in these plots. Normal as well as abnormal CV situations can be modeled on these plots and changes in various parameters can be represented as consequences. The program would not only explain many of the concepts involved in the CV module, but allow students to view and manipulate the graph(s), and visualize its connection to what is going on in the CV system. Possible tools include Director, Authorware and HTML/Java.
Comments: This is a classic instructional module with great possibilities for creative design and scientific visualization of concepts. Of course the challenge is to engage the students and facilitate learning of these concepts in ways that their textbook and lectures/labs do not.

School: Brown University
Teacher: Lin Domizio
Audience: Brown students in Multimedia Chinese (Chi0103)
Project: Professor Domizio would like a program that would allow her students to do reading and listening comprehension exercises based on short stories and fables that she has written and narrated. Students would be able to read the texts of these fables, hear them read in their entirety or simply have lines read to them, and then answer questions that test both reading and listening comprehension. The program could be used for independent study and/or as preparation for class and exams, and might allow users to hear different readers and select questions at different levels of difficulty. Possible tools include Director, Authorware, and HTML/Java.
Comments: For students with some interest or facility with Chinese, this is a great project. Professor Domizio has developed excellent materials, and the challenge is to design the program that encourages practice, and allows students to progress in their facility with the language.

School: Brown University
Teacher: Christine Zarcadoolas
Audience: Undergraduates in ES126
Project: Professor Zarcadoolas is concerned with the public perception of the environment, and this particular project concerns how people perceive and otherwise react to the Brown University campus. She would like a program that would allow users to manipulate familiar scenes on the campus (e.g. removing or adding objects or paths) and answer questions assessing how they react to the altered scene. Saving the results of these changes and answers would help students investigate how people perceive the connectedness of the campus, the role played by structures like walkways and monuments in this perception, and what features of the campus people find most distinctive. Possible tools include Director, Authorware, and HTML/Java.
Comments: There is a good deal of talk about campus renovations these days, and ES126 is a course designed to motivate careful thinking about proposed changes. A program that allows people to simulate these changes and reflect on their reactions to them, is a challenge to program attractively, but could play a tremendous role not only in ES126 but in the campus discussion generally.

School: The Big Picture Company
Teacher: Rachel Brian
Audience: New teachers and principals at "Met" schools
Project: The Met school is an innovative new high school in Providence, with a unique, "one student at a time" philosophy. Teachers and students at the Met create individual learning plans, and the curriculum is based around each student's interest and passions. Students do project based work at internships for two days a week, and academic areas are incorporated into the project work. There are no formal year-long courses. Students are evaluated by exhibition and there are no grades. The Big Picture Company, which runs the Met, is planning to start 12 new Met schools (they will be called Big Picture schools) around the country. They would like an interactive program, perhaps a game, that would help new staff begin to understand the complexities of the school. One possibility is a simple version of something like SimCity (sort of a SimSchool), but they are open to other suggestions; what is most important is that the program provide an interactive introduction to the philosophy and practices at a Met School. Possible tools include HTML/Java, Director and Authorware.
Comments: The Met really is a unique educational environment, and the program we did for 9th graders last year, A Night Out, was a challenging and interesting experience. Here we'll be working not with students as much as faculty, and the challenge will be to create something for teachers and administrators that captures the ideals and details of the Met approach.

School: Brown University
Teacher: Thompson Webb III
Audience: Undergraduates in Geo135
Project: Professor Webb's course is Meteorological Aspects of Climate Change, and he would like software that will allow students to analyze patterns on current and past maps of weather data. Gradients in temperature and pressure field yield information about wind speeds and direction, and the program would allow students to calculate the steepness and direction of the gradients by analyzing the map fields. The user would choose where to measure and then the program will make the measurements by analyzing the features of the image. Mapping temperature and pressure data has been key to meteorological analysis and forecasting for 50 years, and this program would allow students to use the information on the maps and work as operational meteorologists. Possible tools HTML/Java, Director and Authorware.
Comments: Because of the tremendous amount of weather data and images that have become available on the Web, courses like Webb's can be reorganized to empower students to do more data and conceptual exploration on their own. The program requested here is a programming challenge, however, because it requires image processing in the absence of the numerical data that generated the images. If you've taken CS15 and a higher level CS or engineering course that gave you some facility with image processing, this is a great project.

School: Brown University School of Medicine
Teacher: Robert Boland
Audience: 2nd Year Medical Students
Project: Using a computer-simulated patient, students would learn some basic psychiatric interviewing techniques, and integrate this into the organization of a "mental status examination" (a concept used not only in psychiatry, but throughout medicine to organize patient observations). The goals of the project are similar to those of the program created for the Family Medicine Department in 1999 (Patient++), but the emphasis in this project is less on question and answers leading to a diagnosis, and more on eliciting important symptoms along the way that clue the user to an overall picture of a patient's mental status. A further goal is more interactivity between the user and the program, rather than a simple question and response type of presentation. Ideally the program would provide a "virtual patient" that students could practice with. Students, on their own, would be faced with either an animation or a videotaped patient with whom they could interact. A variety of "patient types" could be simulated (the paranoid patient, the depressed patient,etc.), in which students could first learn "ideal" or textbook cases before venturing into real world variations of these. Possible tools include Director, Authorware and HTML/Java.
Comments: Currently in medical education, most instruction of this sort is on "real" patients, however this is limited by time, and is unpredictable. Using actors to simulate patient interviews is helpful, but expensive and time intensive. This program could provide students with a more sustained lesson as well as allow for practice, and the challenge is to make a program that provides a richer educational experience despite its artificiality.

School: Brown University School of Medicine
Teacher: Paul Malloy
Audience: Non-radiologists
Project: The purpose of this program is to teach the fundamentals of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRNI) to medical professionals who are not themselves radiologists or especially familiar with MRI or fMRI. CT and MRI scans are imaging techniques that provide information about the structural integrity of the brain. FMRI provides information about the functioning of various brain regions (e.g. Left cerebral hemisphere activity during speech). FMRI will soon be widely available and a standard tool in neuroscience research, but few scientists are trained in its use. Professor Malloy would like a program that will adapt written material and brain images used in existing classroom courses, and include interactive quizzes. Ideally, it would also present 3D brain images that can be manipulated and rotated. The program will provide explanations of things like the physics of image acquisition, the pros and cons of fMRI, using fMRI in research, and clinical applications and examples of the use of this technology. Possible tools include Director, Authorware and HTML/Java.
Comments: Although the material is specialized, what is required is a rather classic instructional program, and there is the pleasure of being able to present materials to a very educated audience. The challenge will be to make the concepts clear and allow for interactive learning by a wide range of medical people.

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