1. Marie Domingo
  2. Producer / Project Director
  4. Twin Cities Public Television
  1. Richard Hudson
  2. http://informalscience.org/community/users/profile/1520
  3. Director of Science Production
  5. Twin Cities Public Television

Educational Media to Advance Computer Science (E.M.A.C.S.)

NSF Awards: 1339104

2015 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 9-12

Traffic Jam was developed through the Educational Media to Advance Computer Science (E.M.A.C.S.) project, a NSF-supported pilot to establish the effectiveness of a media-based instructional model in enhancing high school teachers’ ability to teach core Advanced Placement® Computer Science Principles (AP® CSP) concepts and engaging students and improving their understanding of applications of computer science.

The TrafficJam video is an excerpt from a 15-minute video that teaches computer modeling and simulation through an exploration of traffic infrastructure. The video follows a group of students as they take on the task of improving signal timing at an intersection near their school. They meet with the Minneapolis traffic control agency and with a computer science educator to understand the problem. Then they gather data at the traffic light; model their data in a spreadsheet; and run their findings through a simulation of the traffic in the neighborhood. At the end of the process, they send their findings to the city of Minneapolis, which adjusts the timing of the lights. A pilot study of TrafficJam in four schools indicates that students found the video engaging, the activities relevant and interesting, and that they gain understanding of modeling and simulation from the experience.

The full Traffic Jam video and companion activities are freely available online at PBS LearningMedia:
http://tiny.cc/emacs. E.M.A.C.S. is a collaboration of Twin Cities Public Television (tpt), the Department of Computer Science at Carleton College, and the STEM Education Center at the University of Minnesota.

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