Funding, Grants & Awards

Brown Wins $1.5 Million To Improve Math Curriculum

Brown University has landed a $1.5-million three-year grant to improve a curriculum designed to help students in middle and high school learn algebra concepts by creating video games.

The 10-week curriculum, dubbed Bootstrap, is used in 150 schools, aligned to the Common Core and state standards and asks each student to program his or her "own working game using key algebra concepts including variables, functions, and the Pythagorean theorem," according to a news release. It is being offered in New York City via CSNYC and nationally through Code.org.

"Once we tell students that they're going to make their own video game, we've got their attention," said Kathi Fisler, professor of computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and co-investigator on the grant, in a prepared statement. "It provides them with the motivation to learn the algebra concepts required to make the game work."

Researchers will use the grant funding to asses and improve the pedagogical tools in Bootstrap linking math skills and computer coding and to hold workshops around the country to train 600 additional teachers to use the curriculum.

"School districts around the country are coming to recognize that computer science instruction is critical for their students," said Shriram Krishnamurthi, professor of computer science at Brown and principal investigator on the grant, in a prepared statement. "However, many schools don't have dedicated computer science teachers, and finding time in the curriculum for CS instruction can be a problem. Bootstrap offers a unique solution. We can train math teachers to do a good job of teaching basic computing, and it can be done as part of the mathematics curriculum."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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