concentrations. Their students are using the Arduino and
Raspberry Pi platforms to create code and software to control sensors and peripheral devices in do-it-yourself projects, and they will leverage online competitions, such as the
EMC Club Website Challenge and the Robotics Education
and Competition Foundation Educational Video Challenge
( forum.robotevents.com/design), for extra motivation.
The sponsors of the National STEM Video Game Challenge offer a laptop as well as $2,000 to the winner’s school.
Yet in our own experience, fiscal and tangible awards alone
do little to spur children’s interest and certainly do not help
them persist once they hit glitches. We found that ongoing
feedback mechanisms worked best for that.
A crucial strength of the Collab Camps was that they
provided multiple opportunities for students and the organizers to provide feedback online via the Scratch website.
We tapped into this strength by making the Scratch website our classroom platform for the National STEM Video
Game Challenge as well. The Collab Camps also made the
competition transparent. Students posted their projects
online, so everyone could see who their competitors were
and, in the process, better understand—and even learn
Online competitions and camps are a great way to motivate students and promote student-centered learning environments where “competitive collaboration” is the norm.
As students work toward a shared goal and reach out to the
greater community, they begin to create more meaningful
Chad Mote is an assistant principal at the Rockdale College
and Career Academy. He completed his principal internship
at the Science Leadership Academy and directed the creation
of the first rural STEAM charter school in Georgia.
Yasmin Kafai is a professor of learning sciences and
of computer and information science at the University
of Pennsylvania. She was one of the original team
members who developed and researched Scratch.
Quinn Burke is an assistant professor of educational
technology at the College of Charleston, South Carolina,
and a former high school teacher. He and Kafai are coauthors of a forthcoming book, Connected Code (MIT
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