Computer science as both a major and industry have continually been on the rise. Demand to learn computer science at a younger age has increased. However, computer science education in secondary schools has still not been widely adopted. Statistics show that nationwide only 1 in 4 high schools offer AP computer science courses and that 9 in 10 K-12 schools do not currently teach any computer science courses. Furthermore, many introductory Computer Science courses focus on boring print statements, do not demonstrate the intersection of hardware and software, and do not focus on building core CS fundamentals. With Kodactive, our goal is to address these shortcomings and get students immersed into CS and build their fundamental understanding from a young age.
Kodactive is a platform for teaching students Computer Science through programmable STEM toys that minimize the learning curve of CS. Our breakthrough concept is a relational one—we believe that if a student can program a device that he or she is familiar with, then he or she will become familiar with coding. This concept is termed as the mere exposure effect in psychology, where “repeated exposure of a stimulus object enhances his attitude toward it”. Hence, the value that we are bringing to the students is teaching them computer science in a more effective way—through programming familiar devices that peek user interest, expose higher-level concepts, and show the immediate relationship between software and hardware (perfect for today's IOT landscape). These are positive aspects of our platform that are not offered in traditional computer science courses.
Our first toy is a programmable RC Car equipped with sensors that can be programmed through our mobile application. Classroom devices that teach computer science already exist in the educational STEM market. However, these devices do not necessarily spike user interest. For example, Wonder Workshop is another programmable STEM toy company, but their device does not offer lessons and does not focus on teaching CS. Our platform walks the student from the very basics of CS, (functions, logic, etc) to even more advanced concepts such as Machine Learning. We do this by breaking down complex concepts in very simple ways and break down concepts into different "worlds" for students to explore. For example, the first world that students explore is "Function Forest". At the end of every world, the students complete a project to show their tangible progress, such as creating a controller for their RC Car.
We strongly believe our project will change how CS is viewed from a young students perspective, as well as revolutionize how CS is taught in elementary and middle schools. One of the major issues with elementary CS education is the lack of qualified teachers. With the simplicity of Kodactive's platform, teachers of any background can incorporate Computer Science into their schools.
For our specific activities, we have been holding workshops at local schools. For example, we held a workshop at the Community School in Baltimore (http://tcshighschool.org/). We also have been speaking with local teachers and listening to their concerns, as well as working with young students to develop our curriculum.