7-8, 9-12, AP Computer Science Principles, Computer Science I, Professional Development

CSTA 2021: Nifty Assignments

If you missed it, yesterday I shared some highlights and takeaways from CSTA 2021. The ultimate highlight, though, was sharing my first “Nifty Assignment.” For those unfamiliar, the Nifty Assignments session was started at SIGCSE and has been adopted by Baker Franke to focus on K-12 education at CSTA. Each year, a few “nifty assignments” are selected and shared. It has always been a favorite session of mine because you walk away with engaging activities and all the materials you need. Assignments cover a range of topics and grade levels and are usually easily adaptable.

Titled “Unplug the Internet,” my nifty assignment is an unplugged simulation of how the internet works. Because students are taking on the role of different parts of the internet (DNS, router, client/server, TCP, etc) they are able to build a connection with that vocabulary. This year, I had my AP CSP students facilitate the simulation to my CS1 class as a review for their AP test. They gave lots of positive feedback and for the rest of the year referred back to the person playing the role in class discussions. Find out all the information about my nifty assignment here!

I had a lot of fun presenting my nifty and working with the other presenters. I guarantee you’re sitting on a nifty assignment. Do you have a favorite lesson you teach each year? Making something you’ve been perfecting? An activity that your students beg to do again? Plus, a nifty assignment is a great way to test the presentation waters. As you go through this year, keep an eye out for your nifty assignment. Find submission details and pasty nifty assignments here!