9-12, Advanced Topics, Computer Science I, Robotics

Passion Project: A Final Project for Everyone

What do I want my students to leave my class knowing? It’s not the nitty gritty details of syntax and memory management. Rather, I want them to see computer science in their everyday activities. I want them to see their coding, iterative design, and critical thinking skills as tools in their toolboxes. And, I want them to have the skill set to investigate and research new ways to use these skills to solve problems. To prove to themselves that they have these skills, I end the year with a final project that I call their “Passion Project.”

(Yes, they need to prove it to themselves. I’ve watched them implement these skills all year, but who isn’t a little nervous when they see something new?)

For their passion project, I give them a list of suggested tools and tutorials with a wide-range of interests. This list varies from year-to-year depending on what students have liked in the past and what I’ve stumbled on recently. I also differentiate when doing this project in a class with more experience. For example:

Beyond a few requests from me like a list of proposed steps and reflections along the way, the students really run with this project. (Here you’ll find the full outline for the project including my rubric.) Throughout their work periods, I stress that this isn’t about having a completed end product; they may not completed all their planned goals or they may revise and add to them. The final presentation should focus on the process it took to get there, what errors or challenges they came across, and how they fixed them. Today, I introduced it to my Computer Science I class and they came alive discussing what a 3D printed shoe could look like or how to design game sprites and their respective personalities. One group was really excited to introduce me to Ren’Py, an open-source visual novel engine, that they know from playing these types of games. I’m so pumped to see what this group comes up with!