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  1. The Computer Science Frontiers (CSF) project introduces teachers to the topics of artificial intelligence and distributed computing to engage their female students in computing by connecting lessons to relevant cutting edge technologies. Application topics include social media and news articles, as well as climate change, the arts (movies, music, and museum collections), and public health/medicine. CSF educators are prepared in a pedagogy and peer-teaching centered professional development program where they simultaneously learn and teach distributed computing, artificial intelligence, and internet of things lessons to each other. These professional developments allow educators to hone in on their teaching skills of these new topics and gain confidence in their ability to teach new computer science materials before running several activities with their students in the academic year classroom. In this workshop, teachers participating in the CS Frontiers professional development will give testimonials discussing their experiences teaching these topics in a two week summer camp. Attendees will then try out three computing activities, one from each Computer Science Frontiers module. Finally, there will be a question and answer session.
  2. The AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) high school course introduces students to computer science and programming. What should motivated students study after successful completion of AP CSP? The AP CSA class teaches Java programming and it has traditionally not attracted students from underrepresented groups. We are working on an alternative, projects-based course that will teach cutting edge CS concepts, such as distributed computing, computer networking, cybersecurity, the internet of things and machine learning, in a hands-on, accessible manner. Such an approach enables students to work on problems that interest them making computing more relevant and the curriculum more engaging. We utilize NetsBlox, a collaborative, block-based programming environment that extends Snap! with a few carefully selected abstractions that open up the vast array of resources freely available on the internet for student programs. Moreover, the tool enables students to work together on the same project remotely similarly to how Google Docs operate. This demonstration will introduce the environment and highlight its utility in creating distributed applications such as a shared whiteboard app and projects that access public domain scientific data sources and visualize them in various ways using online services such as Google Maps or charting. More information is available atmore »« less
  3. The paper introduces DeepForge, a gateway to deep learning for scientific computing. DeepForge provides an easy to use, yet powerful visual/textual interface to facilitate the rapid development of deep learning models by novices as well as experts. Utilizing a cloud-based infrastructure, built-in version control, and multiuser collaboration support, DeepForge promotes reproducibility and ease of access and enables remote execution of machine learning pipelines. The tool currently supports TensorFlow/Keras, but its extensible architecture enables easy integration of additional platforms.
  4. The Covid-19 pandemic has offered new challenges and opportunities for teaching and research. It has forced constraints on in-person gathering of researchers, teachers, and students, and conversely, has also opened doors to creative instructional design. This paper describes a novel approach to designing an online, synchronous teacher professional development (PD) and curriculum co-design experience. It shares our work in bringing together high school teachers and researchers in four US states. The teachers participated in a 3-week summer PD on ideas of Distributed Computing and how to teach this advanced topic to high school students using NetsBlox, an extension of the Snap! block-based programming environment. The goal of the PD was to prepare teachers to engage in collaborative co-design of a 9-week curricular module for use in classrooms and schools. Between their own training and the co-design process, teachers co-taught a group of high school students enrolled in a remote summer internship at a university in North Carolina to pilot the learned units and leverage ideas from their teaching experience for subsequent curricular co-design. Formative and summative feedback from teachers suggest that this PD model was successful in meeting desired outcomes. Our generalizable FIRST principles—Flexibility, Innovativeness, Responsiveness (and Respect), Supports, andmore »Teamwork (collaboration)—that helped make this unique PD successful, can help guide future CS teacher PD designs.« less
  5. Abstract: The paper introduces a visual programming language and corresponding web- and cloud-based development environment called NetsBlox. NetsBlox is an extension of Snap! and it builds upon its visual formalism as well as its open source code base. NetsBlox adds distributed programming capabilities to Snap! by introducing two simple abstractions: messages and NetsBlox services. Messages containing data can be exchanged by two or more NetsBlox programs running on different computers connected to the Internet. Services are called on a client program and are executed on the NetsBlox server. These two abstractions make it possible to create distributed programs, for example multi-player games or client-server applications. We believe that NetsBlox provides increased motivation to high-school students to become creators and not just consumers of technology. At the same time, it helps teach them basic distributed programming concepts.
  6. This paper introduces NetsBlox, a visual programming environment for learning distributed programming principles. Extending both the visual formalism and open source code base of Snap!, NetsBlox provides two accessible distributed programming abstractions to simplify the process of creating networked applications: message passing and Remote Procedure Calls (RPC). Messaging passing allows NetsBlox applications to send data to other connected NetsBlox clients. Remote Procedure Calls enable seamless integration of third party services, such as Google Maps, weather, traffic and other public domain data sources, into NetsBlox applications. Other RPCs help coordinating distributed clients which may be difficult for novice programmers allowing the user to more quickly create captivating and sophisticated applications. These abstractions empower users to develop networked programs, including multi-player games and client-server applications. By providing networking support, NetsBlox not only allows users to learn distribute programming concepts but also makes programming more engaging by incorporating diverse services available on the web.