Purpose: "Game design appears to be a promising approach to interest K-12 students in Computer Science. Unfortunately, balancing motivational and educational concerns is truly challenging. Over a number of years, we have explored how to achieve a functional balance by creating a curriculum that combines increasingly complex game designs, computational thinking patterns and authoring tools. Scalable Game Design is a research project exploring new strategies of how to scale up from after school and summer programs into required curriculum of public schools through game design approaches. The project includes inner city schools, remote rural areas and Native American communities. A requirement checklist of computational thinking tools regarding curriculum, teacher training, standards and authoring tools has been developed and is being tested with thousands of students" (p. 265).
Findings: "... 19 middle school teachers participating in the iDREAMS project. Over the course of the 2009-10 school year, based on responses received from teachers, there will be approximately 75 cycles of the Frogger unit taught to over 2,000 students. Twelve community college students are also serving as classroom support liaisons in select classrooms" (p. 268). "Teachers who have already started to implement the Frogger unit in their classes have been completing daily lesson logs to document their observations of students, monitor the pacing and activities completed, and indicate how they have adapted the proposed unit to address perceived student needs. Even though we are at the early stages of implementation and data collection, four teachers have already reported that the lessons went exceptionally well, with unusually high engagement: students who are usually not engaged, are showing strong interest. Students also seemed to comprehend ideas that had previously been troublesome" (p. 269).
Recommendations: "The computational thinking tool checklist presented here is an early framework of evolving recommendations for introducing computer science into the regular school program through game design. We invite interested parties to participate, challenge and refine this framework through the Scalable Game Design wiki" (p. 269). "We claim that for systemic impact, a computational thinking tool used in K-12 must fulfill all these conditions: 1) has low threshold: a student can produce a working game quickly. 2) has high ceiling: a student can make a real game that is playable and exhibits sophisticated behavior, e.g., complex AI. 3) scaffolds Flow: the curriculum provides stepping stones with managed skills and challenges to accompany the tool. 4) enables transfer: tool + curriculum must work for both game design and subsequent computational science applications as well as support transfer between them. 5) supports equity: game design activities should be accessible and motivational across gender and ethnicity boundaries. 6) systemic and sustainable: the combination of the tool and curriculum can be used by all teachers to teach all students (e.g. support teacher training, standards alignment etc)" (p. 266).