Organize curriculum around building a one-level mini-game to introduce elementary school students to introductory computer science.

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  • Setting up the scope of a game as a one-level minigame is extremely important! Students enjoy making games, but making large or elaborate games is likely beyond the scope of an introductory course.
  • Most students, regardless of their demographic, seem to understand what makes a game. This allows for meaningful conversations at the very beginning of the course and at many grade levels.
  • The first day of class will be more about game design than programming.
  • Start things off on the first day by asking the question, “What makes a game a game?” To answer this question, students will typically come up with most of the following answers:
    • a goal.
    • rules.
    • instructions.
    • challenges and obstacles.
    • characters.
    • controls.
  • Their answers will subsequently serve as great topics to motivate the first and second CS content lessons.
  • It’s important to remind students that there isn’t only one way to make a game. The way you make a game is not necessarily the way your students will make a game.
  • After five minutes of game building in Scratch most students are hooked!
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Interview with Dylan Ryder

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