Computer Science Education Week is a little over a month away – December 4th to 10th, 2023. During this week, teachers around the world hope to inspire students to learn about Computer Science. While the learning is not limited to this week alone, many take advantage of some of the newer activities released around this time to create a buzz in their classrooms around computer science and coding in particular. In this post, I’m sharing about 2 applications that I’m considering using with students that infuse tech in some of the subject areas that I teach. I’m not sure how new they are but they’re new to me.
I’m teaching a bit of everything this year, which includes music. I’m always interested in considering how I might incorporate tech into the music class and was really excited when I came across Project Beats. As part of Code.org’s incubator, Project Beats is a program that allows people to mix, remix and perform music with code. The incubator is where you get the chance to try new things inside Code.org, and while there are sometimes glitches, I’m pretty excited about the possibilities of this one. One issue is that in order to save my work, I have to be signed into my account. Using a third-party app has its challenges in terms of privacy but I would really love to test it out with students and see what they might like to create, even if we can’t save our work online. Perhaps part of our learning would be to note our code so that in a subsequent class, we might be able to pick up where we left off.
Similar to other block-based coding applications, in order to create a song, you simply add blocks to the “when run” block and the possibilities are endless. Choose from a variety of beats to either play on their own, together or sequentially. You can also add drums or play notes from a piano, bass or synthesizer.
While we might start out exploring the application, I think it might be a great way for students to create for a specific audience. Perhaps they can use the music they create to describe the specific feeling or mood in a story or book. I haven’t figured out yet how we might use it but I’m certain it will come to me the closer we get to December.
For the last number of years, Minecraft Education has released an Hour of Code challenge around CSEd Week. I haven’t seen one as of yet but while looking through the different challenges, I came across the Reinventing Cities Challenge and it got me thinking about one of the projects that I am helping out with, in a grade 5/6 classroom for their Science unit. The class is a part of a Design Challenge based on sustainability. The students have started to create sustainable homes and will be working towards creating a sustainable town. Basically, they’re creating a physical version of a similar project that students around the world are doing virtually in Minecraft – Reinventing Cities. I think it would be really neat to see what this class might create given the chance to use a tech tool like Minecraft Education.
Teachers can access a downloadable toolkit that supports learning about their particular region and ways in which to build sustainably. While the project might go on a little longer than we may have planned, I think there will be some students who will really jump on it and may possibly work towards creating during their own time.
These are just a couple of ideas I have for infusing tech in Music and Science, both for CSEd Week and beyond. In what ways might you be celebrating CSEd week this year?