Photo of student working in the Laboratory for Playful ComputationAssistant Professor Ben Shapiro and members of the ATLAS Laboratory for Playful Computation partnered with teachers from Boulder Valley School District to teach networked, distributed computing and computer music during the spring semester. Local seventh and eighth graders designed and executed musical performances or carnival games with sensors, synthesizers, motors and device networking using the LPC-designed BlockyTalky toolkit.

“I’ve never seen my students so engaged and persistent, even when things get hard,” said one classroom teacher. Shapiro reports students came away with a broader understanding of the role of electronics, coding and sensors in their everyday lives. The project was part of a research project that will be released in the coming months, along with BlockyTalky software, which Shapiro hopes to see used widely. “We learn best through play, and BlockyTalky is all about experimentation, discovery and having fun.”