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  1. MOXI is an interactive science center focused on physics topics such as forces, energy, sound, light, and magnetism. MOXI’s exhibits and education program are informed by Physics Education Research (PER) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). As a result, MOXI is an outstanding laboratory for research on how people learn physics through interactive experiences and how best to support this learning. However, conducting research in public spaces with diverse audiences differs from classroom based research. These differences provide both opportunities and challenges. Effective research and program design requires multiple types of expertise including content, research design, and informal environments. In MOXI’s first two years of operation, we have conducted research across a wide variety of participants and topics through a research- practice partnership (RPP) model. This paper focuses on establishing RPPs and methodological considerations when conducting research in informal science education settings such as interactive science centers.
  2. The Next Generation Science Standards have incorporated engineering standards, requiring K-12 teachers to teach engineering. Unfortunately, teachers are ill-prepared and have little comfort to introduce these unfamiliar complex topics into their classrooms. The University of California at Santa Barbara and MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation partnered up to tackle this problem and bring physics-related engineering activities to teachers through the MOXI Engineering Explorations program. A key challenge has been creating activities so that they are effective learning opportunities for first graders (6 years old) through sixth graders (12 years old). Here, we present design guidelines for adapting activities for younger and older children. This framework is also useful for other physics outreach programs that work with wide a range of age levels.
  3. Visual block-based programming environments (VBBPEs) such as Scratch and Alice are increasingly being used in introductory computer science lessons across elementary school grades. These environments, and the curricula that accompany them, are designed to be developmentally-appropriate and engaging for younger learners but may introduce challenges for future computer science educators. Using the final projects of 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students who completed an introductory curriculum using a VBBPE, this paper focuses on patterns that show success within the context of VBBPEs but could pose potential challenges for teachers of follow-up computer science instruction. This paper focuses on three specific strategies observed in learners' projects: (1) wait blocks being used to manage program execution, (2) the use of event-based programming strategies to produce parallel outcomes, and (3) the coupling of taught concepts to curricular presentation. For each of these outcomes, we present data on how the course materials supported them, what learners achieved while enacting them, and the implications the strategy poses for future educators. We then discuss possible design and pedagogical responses. The contribution of this work is that it identifies early computer science learning strategies, contextualizes them within developmentally-appropriate environments, and discusses their implications with respect to futuremore »pedagogy. This paper advances our understanding of the role of VBBPEs in introductory computing and their place within the larger K-12 computer science trajectory.« less