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Active Learning in Computer Science

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Active Learning in Computer Science

Season 2 · Episode 10

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Description

We talk strategies for teaching computer science (CS), with Dr. Cynthia Taylor, a computer science professor at The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Cynthia does research on effective CS education pedagogy, which includes active learning in the classroom. She talks about her research, how to handle not knowing all of CS when you’re teaching CS, the imbalance of experience in students’ experience with CS, and her own educational background.

Our closing music is from "Late for School" by Bleeptor, used under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Check out the book and ebook Engineer’s Guide to Improv and Art Games by Pius Wong, on Amazon, Kindle, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, and other retailers.

Subscribe and find more podcast information at k12engineering.net. Support Pios Labs with regular donations on Patreon, or send one-time contributions by buying us coffee. Thanks to our donors and listeners for making the show possible. The K12 Engineering Education Podcast is a production of Pios Labs.

Transcript

Pius Wong  0:34 

Savvy listeners like you make the K12 Engineering Education Podcast possible. Please consider donating to this project at www.patreon.com/pioslabs. Thanks.

It's May 1st, 2017, and this is the K12 engineering education podcast.

Dr. Cynthia Taylor has taught coding and computer science in small liberal arts college classrooms and in huge lecture halls, filled with students. She also does research on pedagogy and CS at the University of Illinois, Chicago, or UIC. What has she learned about how best to teach CS? I'm your host, Pius Wong. Hear all this and more, next.

Can you briefly introduce yourself and what you do at UIC?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  1:31 

Yeah so I'm Cynthia Taylor, and I'm a clinical associate professor at UIC. The clinical title is a little weird. It's something we kind of stole from the medical school, actually. But it just means that I'm in a teaching-focused position. So I teach two classes every semester, and then I also do research on pedagogy and computer science education and how people learn computer science.

 

Pius Wong  2:00 

So full disclosure for anyone listening. Dr. Taylor you know this, I went to UIC. I graduated with an undergraduate degree in bioengineering. And so my impression of UIC is: it's a big state school, and like, huge classes, especially at the lower levels for me. Could you describe what it's like teaching at UIC?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  2:22 

Yeah, so I have kind of a different perspective on this because actually beforehand, I was teaching at Oberlin College, which is a small liberal arts college. So I went from somewhere where I had classes of about 20 people to somewhere now where I have classes of -- right now one of my classes is 150 people, in the other classes, 100 people.  So it was a big, big change for me.

 

Pius Wong  2:47 

And, you know, I was wondering, is teaching at Oberlin College -- is that like teaching in high school? Because in my mind, I'm thinking, that sounds so much like those smaller classes you might have.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  3:00 

I think it was similar, just in terms of how much real hands-on engagement I could have with each student. You know, when you have a class of 20 people or 15 people, you can really make sure that everybody is doing what they're supposed to be doing. And you can check in personally with everyone who's getting -- who's not doing well, right? You have the ability to make sure that every student is really getting their needs met.

 

Pius Wong  3:27 

In your other classes at UIC, is it a little bit harder?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  3:31 

It's a lot harder, just with the scale, right? I think it's really rewarding, because you're just --you have the ability to touch so many more lives than you otherwise would. And I think as higher education grows and grows, this is sort of the only way we're able to actually meet the demand for it. But it does require a little different approach to it. Like, it becomes much more of a kind of management problem. And also thinking about, okay, if I have 100 students, how am I going to keep them engaged in the lecture, right? How do I keep it from just feeling like it's me droning at them?  Which is where active learning really comes into play.

 

Pius Wong  4:15 

Yeah, so I wanted to bring that up. You're a big proponent and researcher of something called active learning.  You've got some articles about it. For people who might not know what that is, how would you describe that?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  4:29 

Yeah, so active learning is just this idea that your students are actually doing something in the classroom. So in a traditional college level, university class, frequently it's just the professor talking the whole 50 minutes or 75 minutes, right. And there's a lot of research that shows that that's actually a really bad way to teach. Actually, students don't learn very well with it. So the idea behind active learning is just that your students are actively working on material in your class. So they're doing some sort of activity, they're engaged in some way. Frequently in large classes, this means they're working in small groups. I use a very lightweight form of active learning called peer instruction, where they're using clickers, which I think a lot of your listeners may be already familiar with. But if they're not, a clicker is a device that lets them -- It has like five buttons, and it just lets them vote on multiple choice answers in real time. So when I'm teaching a class, I'll do kind of a standard lecture for somewhere between five and 10 minutes, and then I'll put up a multiple choice question. And my students will first vote on it individually. And then they're in a discussion group, and they'll discuss it in a group of about three people. And then they'll revote as a group, and then we'll discuss the question as a class.

 

Pius Wong  5:58 

Does that peer instruction method change depending on if you're in a smaller class? Like in Oberlin, versus a huge class.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  6:06 

So I've used peer instruction in almost every class I've taught, from a class of nine people to a class of 150 people. And I found it very successful in all of those environments. I actually have a paper that I wrote about using it specifically in small classes. For me, the main difference was that when I had a smaller class, I could really kind of walk around and listen in a lot more on what my groups were discussing, and really give them more feedback. Whereas with a bigger class, I have to kind of schedule the feedback more, when the entire class talks together and has a chance to ask questions.

 

Pius Wong  6:47 

Okay. And so I'm imagining in these classes, the active learning component is -- a lot of it is discussion. It's not like they're always having to sit there in front of a computer and code.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  6:56 

Yeah, exactly. So my classes basically don't involve them actually coding in class at all, what they're really doing is that I have some sort of small problem, which may just be like a conceptual problem, or it might be something they actually have to work out. So a lot of times, they'll have problems, where I'll give them a code snippet, and I'll have them come up with what that code would print out. Yeah, something like that. Or I teach computer architecture a lot. So there's a lot of questions where you're translating things into binary or picking the assembly language instructions that would do something, or something like that.

 

Pius Wong  6:58 

So they're constantly thinking basically,

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  7:00 

Exactly, exactly. I like to think of it as: they get to check to make sure that they know what I'm talking about. And I get in real-time a histogram of how they voted. So I get to see, okay, all my students understand this, or, okay, nobody has any idea what I'm talking about. And I better go back and discuss that some more.

 

Pius Wong  8:09 

When I was reading a little bit about what you're talking about -- these peer instruction methods -- it reminds me of what some other teachers have told me. They talked about things like the flipped classroom where the students, I guess, teach more in the beginning or teach themselves in the beginning.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  8:25 

Yeah, so this is a common form of flipped classroom because obviously, you know, probably a quarter to a third of my in-class time is now these questions and discussion. So to kind of make up for that lost time, I assign readings for every class that then my students have a daily reading quiz on. A lot of people also will do little videos and have students watch video lectures to make up for kind of the time you're spending instead on discussion.

 

Pius Wong  8:55 

I can't even imagine what it would be like for high school teachers to teach computer science if they don't actually know computer science, but apparently -- or they don't have a degree in Computer Science -- Apparently, that's a situation a lot. They have teachers that might be experienced in teaching physics, but they all of a sudden have to start teaching some kind of programming class. I'm wondering what tips you, as a more experienced CS teacher, might be able to give someone like that. Like if there was one thing you could tell them...

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  9:25 

Yeah, so that is super common. And I actually I have some sympathy for this, because I came from, as I mentioned, a very small school before this, where we had six professors, so they would kind of be like, okay, Cynthia, you got to teach this. Go. Right? I have a lot of sympathy for that situation. I would say my number one -- the thing I tell myself all the time is, you don't have to know everything. You just have to know more than your students. It's totally okay to be one step ahead of them. The other thing I love about computer science is, you know, there's -- it's so rich, it's so complicated. There's no way you could possibly know everything right? My students are constantly asking me questions. And I'm like, I don't know. But one thing that's great is you can say, well, like, oh, well, let's find out. And you can open up your coding environment and write some code and see what it does, right? So that is a trick I use all the time. Let's see what happens.

 

Pius Wong  10:29 

That's interesting. So you, as a CS teacher, you don't necessarily have to know every single function and command and concept.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  10:38 

I mean, that would be impossible, right? There's so many different programming languages. There's so many, and this is even at the university level. You know, I taught an intro class where we changed the intro level to Python, and I used Python -- I don't know -- a couple of times before, but I was basically learning it along with my students. And so there was a lot of me opening the Python interpreter, and being like, oh, yeah, let's see what happens when we do this.

 

Pius Wong  11:07 

That's funny, because I actually know a whole bunch of teachers right now who are going through that. They're learning Python as their students are learning it.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  11:14 

Yeah.

 

Pius Wong  11:15 

It's tricky.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  11:16 

It is. I feel like -- The way that -- the fancy pedagogy way that I refer to this is you're modeling expert thinking. But definitely just kind of solving the problem in front of them, I think, is something that's actually more valuable, maybe, than if you just can tell them the answer.

 

Pius Wong  11:35 

Interesting. Why would you say that?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  11:38 

Because it's kind of like "teach a man how to fish" approach, right? It doesn't matter so much what the exact way to do something in Python is, because when your students go on, they're going to be learning new languages all the time. So it's way more valuable for them to learn how to solve these problems in any language, how to approach not knowing something and figuring it out.

 

Pius Wong  12:07 

That brings me to something that I'm reminded of sometimes. I remember doing teacher training, and we would teach him how to do a little bit of Arduino programming. And If a teacher is not experienced with it, it could be so frustrating for them to try and pick it up. And so if a teacher is getting frustrated, I'm sure that's not good in front of their kids, but like, how would they deal -- How should they deal with that frustration?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  12:34 

Oh, that's a good question. I think we've definitely all had that moment where, like, your demo is going wrong, and you're trying to live debug something in front of the classroom. It is always -- it's kind of terrifying, right? Because you're like, can I fix this? What is going on? Definitely, the first time I do something, I take a lot fewer risks. I make sure I'm doing a demo that I did on my own beforehand and I knew worked before I go into the classroom. And then like the second or third time I'm teaching the class, I get a little -- a lot more off script. I think also just being able to show that you don't necessarily know everything is also kind of valuable to students, right? Because you're an expert. And If you don't know the answer, it's sort of showing them, it's okay to not know, right? Like, you can be an expert and not know everything. You just need to know how to figure things out.

 

Pius Wong  13:39 

The clicker questions that you're talking about -- it reminds me of something that I saw in your research, you wrote a lot about concept inventories. Is that something that's related?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  13:50 

No, concept inventories are something I came to, partly just in an effort to assess my own research, because when you're looking at assessing an experiment you do in your teaching, it's actually really hard to tell if you're successful or not. If I make a change in my classroom, I can measure "Did my students like it?" pretty easily. I can give them a survey. And I can see whether or not they liked it, or whether they think that it helped them learn. But it's actually pretty tricky to see. Did my students actually learn more with me doing this thing than they would have without doing this thing? And so the idea of concept inventories is just that it should be a high level test that tests just the core concepts of a class, It has to be something that's easy to give to a class because you want to be able to have any teacher give it to any, you know, any operating systems class or any data structures class or any whatever class. So usually, they're multiple choice. And the idea is not that it's a tool to measure individual student learning, but that it's a tool to measure whether your class as a whole is learning better than they would otherwise. So it's kind of a standardized assessment to measure pedagogical techniques. And this came out of -- the physics community is really where concept inventories come from. They come out of someone who was at MIT, and his students were doing great, and his students were really great at being able to take a formula and plug in the end the numbers and get the answers. But then when he asked them real world questions, and how this changed their conception of how things actually worked in the world, it turned out it wasn't changing their conceptions of the world at all. Like, they could do these kind of plug and chug questions, but they still weren't getting the concepts of how things worked. And so he developed this concept inventory called the Force-Concept Inventory, which has been used a bunch in physics and actually really led kind of the change over to active learning within the physics community. And there's a huge study they did on active learning and physics, where they have like 6000 students and like 20 different instructors, and they use the concept inventory for everyone. And we're able to really tell, okay, you know, students with active learning are actually learning more conceptually than students who aren't. So that's really where that comes from. And so we unfortunately -- in computer science, there aren't a lot of these in existence. Actually, a group just developed one for CS1. So there's now a CS1 concept inventory that's available out there if you email the people who developed it.

 

Pius Wong  17:03 

So that would be like a set of formative assessments or questions you could ask in the middle of class?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  17:09 

Exactly, exactly. So it's a set of kind of multiple choice formative assessment questions that you can ask and see how what your students are learning compares to what anybody else teaching CS1 -- what their students are learning.

 

Pius Wong  17:26 

Do they have research results on it? Because that would be super interesting.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  17:30 

So in just came out, they just developed all the questions. It's been available for probably less than six months now. So I think now they're really trying to get people to start using it in the classroom to actually get research results from it. One thing that's similar that's available for K through 12 is, of course, the AP CS test. Which is nice, because it gives you that kind of standardized assessment power, where everybody's taking the same questions, and you can see how many students are taking the test, and then also, how many students are getting fours and fives on the test. And there's been a lot of work I know in K through 12, and computer science, looking at who is taking and who is passing the AP CS test, especially in terms of diversity work, There's been a lot of work with people trying to increase the number of underrepresented students who are taking and passing the AP CS test.

 

Pius Wong  18:31 

So you might recommend using some of those questions to gauge your own teaching.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  18:37 

Definitely. Or if you're, you know, teaching AP CS, if your students are taking that test anyway, that gives you really good feedback about how your students are doing compared to everybody else at a national level.

 

Pius Wong [Narration]  18:53 

Cynthia and I started talking about the new AP Computer Science Principles initiative, too, and how to increase access to CS education. She recommended a book on this issue called "Stuck in the Shallow End" by author Jane Margolis.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  19:09 

It's a great book by this woman who looked at several different high schools in Los Angeles, and looked at how they're -- what options student have had, in order to take CS classes. And what she felt -- if you want to become really enraged, you should definitely read this book. Because basically, she found that students at poor classes had no resources and no CS classes. And that students at wealthy schools had a lot of resources. And one of the things she found, which was really interesting, was that frequently teachers have this problem where they confuse innate talent in CS with people who have had prior experience in CS. Which is a big problem for our discipline. Because, you know, if you're teaching biology, right, you know that most students have gone through a pretty standard, like, high school bio-type class. And obviously, some people have had more rigorous experiences than others, but they've learned probably close to the same things. Whereas in computer science, when we teach CS1 at the college level, We have students coming in who have taken classes where, you know, they basically know all the material we're teaching them. And really our goal is to kind of get them to test out of CS1. And we have students who have never really even used a computer that much before. And teaching to that broad spectrum is really hard. And I think it's especially dangerous when you combine it in CS. We frequently have this myth of kind of like innate CS skill, or like, this kind of genius, hacker genius, hacker mythos. And I think, frequently, people see like: Oh, these people in my class are doing so well. And these people are doing so poorly. Clearly, just these people are really good. And these people aren't. When, in fact, maybe the people who are really good are the people who had access to computers and computer programming before they came into your class.

 

Pius Wong  21:24 

Yeah, that's super relevant. A lot of teachers have told me that that's what they see in their own classes. Some teachers who do teach computer science, they frequently say, it's easily split up into two groups: the people who are super good just right off the bat, because they've already done it, and everything is just too easy. And then the other people who are just doing these things for the first time. And that's like the number one question that we used to get as curriculum developers: How do you teach to one class that has basically two levels of experience?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  21:58 

Yeah, it's really difficult. I think the most successful we've been is kind of trying to create  multi-level exercises where you can say, okay, if you know this stuff, do this other thing. Well, you focus on the people who don't know this stuff yet. But It's really hard. And I think it's always really tempting when you get students who -- you always people who are really bright and really engaged and really get the material. It's really fun to like, nerd out with them and be like, yeah, this is awesome. Let's talk about it. But I think then you have this real danger of losing the people who don't know things yet. Right?

 

Pius Wong  22:41 

So that brings me back to peer instruction. When you get your groups of kids together to talk about different concepts, does it matter how they group up? Do you pair people with a lot of experience together? Or do you pair them up with people with less experience?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  22:56 

Yeah, so this is actually an open question that I would love -- If someone out there wants to do a research project, I'd love to see the results. Personally, I tend to group them by experience. And I do that just because my nightmare is that you have like two really advanced kids and one student who's underexposed and then that one student is kind of left out of all the discussion.

 

Pius Wong  23:26 

You group similar levels of experience together.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  23:28 

Yeah, similar levels of experience together. Because that way, I feel like you have more students working together on a level playing field. And the less, like, one person being the expert, or two people being the expert and one person being left out.

 

Pius Wong  23:44 

I see. Then do you change up groups, or are they pretty much staying together?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  23:49 

So I change up groups usually midway through the semester. I give them an option where I say, okay, you can decide if you want to stay with your group or change your group. And usually about a quarter of people, maybe you want a different group. And half -- some of them are like, no, I love my group. Don't make me change it. So It's very interesting.

 

Pius Wong  24:11 

And are there any other tips you can give about good or bad peer instruction?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  24:16 

Yeah, so I think developing the questions is something that is definitely really hard. I would say in general, I try to have a question every like five to 10 slides. I think having any question is better than having no questions, because at least at the very least, you're having your students like, briefly think about something. They don't get to sleep for a whole hour at least.  But also developing -- you want your questions to be kind of conceptual. You want them to be less plug and chug. I think a problem that I had, frequently, early on, when I was developing questions -- I had a lot of questions that were kind of like, just, do you remember what I had on the last slide? And so I've been kind of trying to move to: if they need any information, making sure that information is on the slide with the question. So it's less of just a memory question and more of a "Can you actually apply these concepts?" kind of question.

 

Pius Wong  25:22 

When you start talking about that, it makes me think that having a concept inventory or some database of questions would be a huge time saver for teachers.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  25:31 

Oh, yes. So I should plug this. So first of all, a bunch of people I know run a website. It's called Peer Instruction 4 CS, with the number four. And they have a huge database of available peer instruction questions for a bunch of different classes. I think they might have even AP CS Principles up there. They definitely have intro CS in Java, intro CS in Python, intro CS with media com, like a bunch of different intro classes. So if people want materials, they have a great bunch of slides and peer instruction questions. You can just go to their website, and you fill out a form, and they'll email you the slides. So you can just get a whole class' worth of PowerPoint with peer instruction questions.

 

Pius Wong  26:24 

Wow, that's awesome.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  26:25 

Yeah, it's run by Cynthia Bailey Lee, who is a lecturer at Stanford.

 

Pius Wong  26:31 

Are there any other resources you would suggest for teachers?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  26:35 

Yeah. So my second plug is that if they are going to -- Well, first of all, SIGC is the conference, the ACM Symposium on computer science education. It's a conference that happens in March every year. And it's all kinds of computer science education. But they do have, I think, one day that focuses on K through 12. And there's definitely a bunch of K through 12 people there. There's a bunch of talks about people who are doing K through 12. work. So that's a great conference to go to. They definitely have a proceedings with all of the papers. So you need access to the ACM library to read the papers. But I think -- I'm not I'm not sure how it works if you're at an elementary school.

 

Pius Wong  27:23 

There might be science coordinators or district coordinators who do have access to that, and they could probably...

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  27:29 

Yeah, definitely, or anyone at a university should have access to it.

 

Pius Wong  27:34 

Oh, that's really neat. And so all of these ideas are awesome. And it just reminds me of my own education. And like I said, I didn't get a CS degree, but I had to learn a lot of programming in various classes. But I did have one excellent lecturer, and I was telling you this before, who was teaching me Fortran. I don't think anyone teaches Fortran anymore.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  27:58 

Not so much. Although, now if you do know Fortran, Fortran programmers are in really high demand, because there's a huge amount of legacy code that is still in Fortran that companies need to keep updated.

 

Pius Wong  28:11 

Oh, really? Okay.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  28:12 

Yeah, like apparently the Navy's like all Fortran.

 

Pius Wong  28:16 

Wow. Yeah. If kids have a very targeted career goals...

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  28:21 

Learn Fortran...

 

Pius Wong  28:23 

I was wondering what was your educational experience? Like compared to what you give? Basically, what, what was learning CS like for you? And is it any different from how you're teaching it?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  28:35 

It was. It was definitely very different. I mean, it was definitely the traditional lecture classes. I remember my CS1 class was -- it was like 9am. And it was in a lecture hall with, you know, 60 students, and they would turn all the lights off. I feel like they used to turn the lights -- Even projectors were worse when we were in college. Because you used to just have this totally dark classroom, which thank goodness you don't need anymore. But every morning, I remember I would be in this CS class. And the professor had this amazing Welsh accent. So he had this very kind of like lulling, sonorific voice, and you just look around and like half of the room would be asleep.

 

Pius Wong  29:18 

And yet, you stuck with it.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  29:20 

I did. Well, I just loved -- then I would go to the lab, and I would get to write my little programs. And it was so magical. I just loved it. But so one thing that frequently -- obviously, I spend a lot of my time trying to convince people that they should be doing active learning and peer instruction, and all of this. And one of the feedback that we get a lot is: Well, you know, I went through all lecture, and it works for me. Why doesn't it work for everybody else?  Why can't -- You hear a lot of, like, "Kids today just need to learn how to learn from a lecture," right? One of the things that I like to point out is, there's an incredibly -- usually I'm talking to people who are college professors, and I say, you know, less than 1% of the population has a PhD, which means if you made it this far, you're just a total freak. Like, why would you assume that what works for you works for everyone else, when you're clearly a total statistical outlier, right? People who go into education are people who love school, right? So of course, "This stuff worked for us" doesn't mean that there's any evidence that it worked for anybody else. And the other thing is, did you learn because of lecture, or did you learn despite lecture? How well would you have done with more active techniques?

 

Pius Wong  30:50 

So you're also making the argument here, then that CS and education should be accessible to more than that 1%? That we should have this broader access to computer science?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  31:01 

Oh, yeah, totally. I mean, I love computer science. And I want everybody to love it. And I think it's going to be necessary, right? Because now everybody uses a computer, like no matter what you do, you're more and more likely to use computer programming in any science or any job, right? Now, if you're in biology, you have to be able to write scripts to process your data.  Or any of these sciences.

 

Pius Wong  31:31 

And particularly engineering. People keep on emphasizing that it's in every single discipline.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  31:38 

Yeah, we definitely -- all of our engineers take a CS class at UIC now.

 

Pius Wong  31:42 

Oh, really? And they aren't teaching Fortran anymore?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  31:46 

No, we have them teach -- They take this class that's half in C, and then it's half in MATLAB, which is like a scripting language for matrix multiplication.

 

Pius Wong  32:00 

Were you one of the kids who really, really loved CS from when you were really little?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  32:06 

So I'm actually kind of a weirdo. Because when I was really little, I was always a stereotypical humanities and English person. I was always reading books. And I really loved writing. I had this idea that I would be a writer when I grew up. And then I got on the internet really early for the internet in like '93 or something. And it was right when the World Wide Web was starting, right when it was like brand new, like I was looking at it in like Netscape or something.

 

And I started making -- I started learning how to make websites. And at the time, you could just go to any website, and you could just do View Source, and you can see the code for the website, and you could kind of steal other people's code and change it around. And so I really liked doing that. And then I thought, oh, maybe I'll go to college. And I'll take some computer programming classes. And I sort of had this idea that, you know, maybe being a writer is not the most fiscally solid career, so I could have a have a backup plan. So then I went to college, and I took computer science, and I just fell in love with it. So I feel like I'm kind of the opposite of every kid who went to college to become a doctor and becomes like a dancer. I have the opposite story.

 

Pius Wong  33:28 

But to me, it sounds like there's a lot of parallels between good writing and good coding or programming.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  33:34 

Yeah, what I have always loved about computer science is that you're building something. So even though you're not -- even though you're not building a physical thing, like, you just type, and then you make a thing that kind of lives on your computer and does stuff. And that was always so magical to me.

 

One of sort of the pitfalls we kind of fall into in STEM is kind of just staying in STEM world -- thinking this is kind of the most important thing. And I think it's so powerful to kind of reach out to art and the humanities, and we have so much to learn from them. And you can create just amazing things when you collaborate together. I have had the opportunity to do some collaborations with artists. And it's been really amazing to get to work together and, you know, do Arduino projects and things like that.

 

Pius Wong  34:32 

Right. Well, I think that that is the last question that I was going to ask. Is there anything else that you'd like to plug?

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  34:39 

No I think that's it. Thank you for letting me do my plugs.

 

Pius Wong  34:43 

No, no problem, Cynthia. It's all about plugging things that are cool. So, thank you so much, Cynthia, for your time and for doing all this research and sharing what you know with all our other engineering and CS teachers listening. And I wish you luck in your continued research.

 

Dr. Cynthia Taylor  35:00 

Thank you. Thank you for having me on. This has been really fun.

 

Pius Wong [Narration]  35:08 

For links to the resources that Dr. Cynthia Taylor mentioned here, check out the show notes. Follow the show on Twitter: @K12Engineering. And you can find me on Twitter, @PiusWong. Subscribe to and share the show however you get and share your podcasts, and please write a review that will help others find the show. All the details are at www.k12engineering.net. The closing music is from "Late for School" by Bleeptor under a Creative Commons Attribution License. The K12 Engineering Education Podcast is a production of my independent studio, Pios Labs, and you can support Pios Labs at www.patreon.com/pioslabs.

 

Pius Wong  35:58 

In my post-show informal notes today, I just have two messages. One is: Check out the slightly updated website for the podcast www.k12engineering.net. If you go to the side and look for the Episodes section where it lists out Season One and Season Two episodes, you can click on an individual episode. And it'll bring you to show notes and resource links, and also transcripts for that episode. And not only that, once you're there, you can kind of more easily navigate to other transcripts for other episodes. And it wasn't like that before. So I'm proud that it's gotten even this far. I will continue to add transcripts. And in fact, if I get enough Patreon support, I can pay someone to help me get those transcripts up. Because it does take a lot of effort. But I'm happy to do it. And I know that some people already appreciate it, especially if English is not your first language or if you're hearing-impaired. So yeah, just check out that website. It's great. The second message is an ongoing message. As you know, I am trying to develop educational games and educational video games to help kids especially to learn engineering. What I want to do is do some market research. And if you tell me what you think the most important, or most challenging, or most difficult concepts to learn in engineering are, if you email me that or tweet me that, that will go into my tally for my market research. And that'll guide what kind of games I create. So yeah, I'm just trying to figure out what things I should make, and you can help me do that. You can help guide what games I make. That's all. Send me an email about your thoughts. Yeah, and until next time, take care.