Creative Constructor
Lab Virtual
Leadership Exchange
at ISTELive 21
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

Computational Thinking in STEM from Preschool to High School: Research and Practice

Participate and share

Participate and share : Interactive lecture

Tuesday, June 25, 4:45–5:45 pm
Location: 126AB

Chad Dorsey   Dr. Sarah Haavind   Nicole Hutchins   Mollie Levin  
Learn how to integrate computational thinking and modeling into math and science from three innovative NSF projects. See how students across the grades develop strategies for understanding and solving problems in a way that leverages the power of technological methods to experiment, make, develop, and test solutions.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Teacher education/higher ed faculty
Skill level: Intermediate
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Mac, PC
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Computer science and computational thinking
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: Math, Science
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Computational Thinker
  • Students collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.
Empowered Learner
  • Students articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.
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

Computational thinking (CT) can be integrated into STEM instruction in authentic ways to engage students. New approaches are being developed under three innovative National Science Foundation projects that integrate computational thinking practices into in K-12 education. Participants will become familiar with new ways to integrate CT into classroom instruction and gain insight into how technology can support that integration.

WGBH, the Education Development Center (EDC), and Kentucky Educational Television (KET) have teamed up to explore the integration of computational thinking into math instruction in rural and urban preschools. The team will share prototype hands-on activities and digital tablet apps that have been iteratively developed to investigate children's CT learning and teachers' CT understanding. The team will also share videos that have been coded to help identify what CT looks like in the preschool classroom.

Members of the Concord Consortium will show how digital IoT sensors, hands-on experiments with plants, and open source data analysis tools can bring authentic data and computational thinking into biology classes with the NSF InSPECT project. Using InSPECT activities, teachers can teach both NGSS practices as well as address computational thinking practices concurrently.

Nicole Hutchins from Vanderbilt University will share an approach to combining computational models and simulations with embedded assessments for a high school physics curriculum. Experiments in high school classrooms have demonstrated synergistic learning of physics and computational thinking concepts and practices.


Total Session 60 minutes:
2 minutes - Introduction and welcome to session
10 minute - Talk 1: Computational thinking in PreK Math
10 minute - Talk 2: Computational thinking in middle and high school physics
10 minutes - Talk 3: Computational thinking in high school biology
8 minutes - Q/ A with audience.
20 minutes - Participants visit tables with sample materials, laptops running software or videos, talk to members of the team to ask specific questions and interact.

Supporting research

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Chad Dorsey, The Concord Consortium
Dr. Sarah Haavind, Concord Consortium
Nicole Hutchins, Vanderbilt University
Mollie Levin, WGBH Educational Foundation

Mollie Levin, M.A. is a Senior Project Manager, Early Childhood at WGBH. Her current projects include overseeing the development of educational materials using an inclusive, participatory approach, and revitalizing an early childhood initiative that focuses on supporting intergenerational learning. Her previous experience includes producing STEM apps for preschoolers at WGBH, as well as researching and developing new coding technologies for early childhood settings at the DevTech Research Group at Tufts University. Mollie received both her Master’s Degree and Bachelor’s Degree from the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University.

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