Project X was officially launched in December 2017. A total of 26 children aged 6-7 participated in two classes, which lasted three hours on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. We hope to explore more scientific educational methods, that is, to teach children to learn computer science knowledge and develop their creativity in play with the simplest tools (free from the limitations of complex and expensive teaching aids such as computers).
In the course, we do not use any electronic equipment, do not rely on expensive high-tech products such as computers, robots, etc. We teach children computer science and programming knowledge in a playful way by using only common things in life, such as paper and pen. The curriculum adopts project-based learning (PBL), “Learning through Play” and in-depth learning. Through meaningful, joyful, social interaction, actively participation and iterative games, children are learning knowledge and acquiring physical, social, cognitive, emotional and creative abilities.
For example, in the course of helping children understand the concept of “Information Encryption Protocol”, the game of “Presidential Meeting” was introduced. In the game, each child plays the role as a president of a country, and each country needs to know the total number of nuclear weapons in the world while guaranteeing its own nuclear deterrence (not revealing the number of nuclear weapons). In the process of playing, children understand the basic solution of contradiction, help children understand how to share information and create value, but also to ensure that it is not leaked and used, at this time we need a special method of information sharing, that is, the “information encryption protocol”.
Another example was that when helping children understand computational thinking, we design a game called “Gogobot” according to the framework of “decomposition, pattern generalization, abstraction, algorithm design, iteration improvement”: just like the lattice skipping games we used to play when we were young, we draw lattices on the ground and let children jump around in the lattices.
Gogobot is a minimalist version of Dungeon Game: walking through mazes, looking for treasures; there may be traps and monsters in mazes. The child should program the robot that breaks into the dungeon, let it walk in the dungeon, escape and find treasures. In the process, children need to decompose treasure-hunting tasks layer by layer; need to decompose tasks corresponding to programming instructions, abstract thinking from physical games to paper planning; need to use pattern generalization to find recyclable parts; need to design algorithms to complete the robot’s route; need to find loopholes, constantly modify and iterate.