8:45am

Thu May 10, 2012
Education

Nostalgia Gaming: Frogger Helps Teach Kids Computer Science

Brian Geraghty loved playing Frogger as a kid. Now he teaches his 4th grade students to design it.

Geraghty is a teacher at Aspen Creek K-8 in Broomfield. He and another 4th grade teacher Chris Hespe started an after school program to teach their students how to design games. They use Agentsheets, a program they learned at the University of Colorado’s iDREAMS Scalable Game Design Summer Institute last year.

CU Computer Science professor Alexander Repenning developed Agentsheets to help kids learn computational thinking and basic scientific principles. Agentsheets lets students personalize their games with different colors and icons, as well as giving them the tools to build and imagine their own unique games, which Geraghty says his students have excelled in.

The hope is that female and minority students develop an interest in computer science, an area where they are historically underrepresented.

Over three years iDREAMS has reached more than quadruple the amount of students it was projected to, at last count more than 8,000 and was recently rewarded for its efforts-in the form of a new $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Repenning says the grant will be used to analyze how video game design engages students and if it helps their science test scores.