Computational Thinking and Physical Computing in Physical Education

Project: Research project

Project Details


This Medium, Pre-K to 8 CS4All proposal builds on an existing research practice partnership that focuses on broadening and deepening perceptions, awareness, interest and achievement in computational thinking and computing among students and teachers. Expanding on the existing RPP, which explores computational thinking through games, virtual reality and Making in Media Arts, the current proposal bridges computational thinking, physical computing and physical education classes. The PI will work with K-5 physical education and coding teachers to develop learning activities that highlight the bi-directional opportunities for computing to improve performance in athletics, and for athletics to support STEM learning. The team will also evaluate and adapt ISTE CS standards and the STEM activation framework to assess changes in student learning, perceptions and choices. Teacher perceptions, knowledge and confidence with computing will also be evaluated. The integration of physical computing and physical education will be realized through activities that involve testing, critiquing and designing custom sports wearables. We envision that students will 1) collect multimodal data (e.g. indoor location systems, accelerometers, gyroscopes, and bio-physiological sensors) using commercial wearables; 2) use that data to answer questions about their athletic performance; and 3) use low-cost materials to design and prototype custom wearables that enable them to further explore and improve their physical performance.The activities and wearables are informed by a recent one week pilot that successfully increased interest and awareness of connections between sports and technology among local youth. The work is also informed by the district’s inclusion of wearables in physical education to promote physical health. The research plan includes three years of curriculum design and refinement, professional development and in-school implementations. The program will reach approximately 650 students across three schools and 29 teachers from around the district. A core group of 9 teachers will be the primary teacher participants. These teachers will be trained to sustain this work within the district after the conclusion of project. This work will address the following research questions: 1. What are the components of an authentic and generative in-school learning experiences that connects computing and athletics? 2. In what ways do these experiences impact short-term and long-term student and teacher perceptions, interest, knowledge and confidence with computing? 3. How do we effectively represent and measure the learning that students experience within these expansive learning envirionments - particularly thinking about ways that this can be informative for teachers and realized within the scope of a teacher’s assessment responsibilities?
Effective start/end date8/15/207/31/23


  • National Science Foundation (DRL-2031467-001)


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