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Computer Science | News

U Colorado Boulder Tutorial Uses Video Games To Teach Coding

A University of Colorado Boulder team has launched a tutorial to help students, teachers and others create a 3D video game in an effort to generate interest in computer programming.

The "game-building program allows people with zero experience coding to design their own 3-D worlds by 'inflating' hand-drawn 2-D icons and then programming those objects to interact in defined ways," according to a CU Boulder news release.

"Programming should be easy and exciting," said Alexander Repenning, CU Boulder computer science professor and lead on the project, in a prepared statement. "But that's not where we are. The perception of the public is that it's hard and boring. Our goal is to expose a much larger as well as broader audience to programming by reinventing computer science education in public schools."

The tutorial was built for "Hour of Code," an initiative taking place during Computer Science Education Week, December 9-15. Launched by code.org, the Hour of Code seeks to get 10 million students to spend one hour coding this week.

The tutorial is not Repenning's first foray into the world of student programmers. He has previously developed AgentSheets and AgentCubes, drag-and-drop tools designed to spark student interest in programming, as well as Scalable Game Design, a curriculum designed to help teachers implement those tools.

Repenning has also received two National Science Foundation grants for his work on student coding. "The first, for $1.5 million, is being used to follow up on how pedagogy affects girls studying computer science," according to a news release. The second is a $2 million grant, awarded in August, to help spread Scalable Game Design nationally.

Go to code.org to learn more about Hour of Code. More information about the 3D game tutorial is available at sgda.cs.colorado.edu.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is the multimedia editor for Campus Technology and THE Journal. He can be reached at jbolkan@1105media.com.

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