An Ecosystem: Computational Thinking, Project-Based Learning & Logo

by Nancy Otero
July 2017

ABSTRACT:
This paper describes an ecosystem of project-based learning formed around Logo-based tools and computational thinking. At Portfolio School - a mixed-age, project-based learning, maker centered micro-school in NYC with ten children between the ages of 6-10 year old, learners used GoGo Board, Netlogo, TurtleArt, and LightLogo to design personal projects using robotics, create laser cut bookmarks designed with functions, construct and program a LED bonfire, and code agent-based simulations. Observations throughout the school-year suggested that this ecosystem immersed learners into the computational thinking world and supported the development of agency by providing an environment where learners could: 1) create things that were meaningful to them and 2) give learners the opportunity to take ownership over the process of making.


Integrating Project-Based and Maker-Centered Learning

by Shira Leibowitz & Nancy Otero
July 2017

ABSTRACT:
This educator submission describes an ecosystem of project-based (PBL), maker-centered (MCL), interdisciplinary learning in which the contributions to human creativity of both the sciences and the humanities are equally honored, and are combined in a way to support learners to understand their world and to make meaning for themselves. At Portfolio School, a mixed-age school currently serving students in Kindergarten through fourth grade, educators grappled with combining the wisdom and approaches of both the sciences and the humanities in an integrated manner. Initially lacking understanding as to the ways in which bringing the humanities and the sciences, as well as project-based and maker-centered learning would clash, we found through our creative tension insights into ways of designing a compelling learning framework that integrates PBL and MCL that marries the evidence, inquiry and curiosity of science with the personal meaning making as well as the cultural and self-expression of the humanities. Our journey created a new teaching methodology that integrates the argumentative and storytelling nature from PBL with the inquiry and personal exploration based curiosity of MCL.