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  1. Internet of Things (IoT) devices are common in students’ everyday lives, but connecting these devices to a programming environment for educational use is not always straightforward. This paper presents a framework, IoTScape, for connecting IoT devices to an online block-based programming environment. This system automatically provides both a novice-friendly interface and more advanced tools integrating cybersecurity concepts. By allowing new device types to easily be added to the system, a more diverse set of curricula is possible, ideally attracting more students who may not find the existing curricula engaging. Examples are provided of IoT devices used with this system, both physical and virtual, connected to NetsBlox through this platform, along with potential pedagogical uses of these devices. 
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  2. null (Ed.)
    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, and Teamwork (collaboration)—that helped make this unique PD successful, can help guide future CS teacher PD designs. 
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  3. 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. 
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