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Using Coding Tools for Student-Created Science Simulations

Explore and create
Pre-registration required

Explore and create : Workshop

Saturday, June 22, 8:30–11:30 am
Location: 115A

Scott Moss  
Learn the process of using block-based coding tools to create science animations, experiments and simulations. See how to guide students in the creation of their own science experiments and simulations that can accurately emulate the natural world.

Audience: Coaches, Teachers, Professional developers
Skill level: Intermediate
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Attendees will need a (free) Scratch account.
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Project-, problem- and challenge-based learning
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: STEM/STEAM, Science
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Computational Thinker
  • Students break problems into component parts, extract key information, and develop descriptive models to understand complex systems or facilitate problem-solving.
  • Students formulate problem definitions suited for technology-assisted methods such as data analysis, abstract models and algorithmic thinking in exploring and finding solutions.
Innovative Designer
  • Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

* Using the block-based coding tool know as Scratch, participants will create 2-3 simulations that accurately model real-world phenomena such as the changes in the states of water based on temperature.

Attendees will describe how and when to use these types of simulations with their students

* Attendees will identify resources to get started, manage and evaluate student work.

* Attendees will describe how student programming promotes computational thinking.

* Attendees will describe how programming skills transfer to other disciplines

* Attendees will identify free tools best fit their students' needs and abilities.

* Attendees will describe common techniques for students to create their own computer programs.

* Attendees will describe how purposeful coding allows students to apply mathematical concepts such as coordinates, variables, and functions.

* Attendees will describe how student programming promotes higher-level thinking and problems solving.


Introduction and Background - 10 minutes
* Examples of outstanding student-created science animation and simulations.

* Brief overview/review of Scratch and other student programming tools.

Benefits of Programming - 10 minutes
* Show how programming has a positive student such as integrated math, computational thinking, collaboration and problem-solving. Also show similarities between Scratch routines and similar routines in programming languages such as PHP and C. Examples include loops, variables, and if-then statements.

Task one: Creating an animation (15 minutes)
Show student created mitosis animation. By creating even a simple animation in Scratch, we will be prepared to create animations in almost all of the block-based coding programs.

Have participants make a simple animation of plant growing.

Teaching programming- 15 minutes: Overview of teacher resources and communities pertaining to student programming. Also include personal and professional experiences related to my teaching of Scratch at the junior high level.

Sample Lesson and Audience participation- 10 minutes: Model a small fragment of a Scratch lesson and have participants create a flow chart of a branched procedure. Short share out and connect to the "logic" of computer programming.

Next steps - 5 minutes: How participants can get started and/or move forward with programming for students. Will review site of links to resources.

Supporting research

* "Benefits of Computer Education" by Jessica Gorman in Computer Systems 2008-2009. (

"Programming Teaches Problem Solving" by Michael Badger. (

"Scratch Programming: Teaching Children to Be Creators Rather Than Consumers" National Writing Project.

"Scratch: Programming for Everyone" by Mitchel Resnick, John Maloney, Andrés Monroy Hernández, Natalie Rusk, Evelyn Eastmond, Karen Brennan, Amon Millner, Eric Rosenbaum, Jay Silver, Brian Silverman, and Yasmin Kafai (

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Scott Moss, Los Angeles County Office of Education

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