Crystal Island is a narrative-centered learning environment targeting 8th-grade middle school students in microbiology. Narrative-centered learning environments combine commercial game technologies, rich story contexts and intelligent tutoring techniques to provide students with effective, engaging learning experiences. Students play the role of Alex Reid, a visitor to an island whose residents are falling victim to a mysterious spreading illness. It is up to Alex, the player, to solve the emerging science mystery and diagnose the spreading illness by learning about microbiology and practicing science-based problem solving skills. The curriculum underlying Crystal Island's science mystery is derived from the North Carolina state standard course of study for eighth-grade microbiology. Crystal Island is the platform upon which several research projects in artificial intelligence, education, and human computer interaction are being conducted. Active research includes interactive narrative generation, affective modeling, student modeling, tutorial dialogue generation, and intelligent creativity support. Current STARS students are working on adding new features to Crystal Island's basic game mechanics, building tools and infrastructure for new projects built upon Crystal Island's technology base, helping prepare for human-subject studies involving middle school students, and writing research papers. The Crystal Island project is an active collaboration between researchers, teachers, students, and staff from the IntelliMedia Center for Intelligent Systems, North Carolina State University's College of Education, The William and Ida Friday Institute, and several North Carolina middle schools. Funding is provided from the National Science Foundation.
We have partnered with Citizen Schools, a non-profit that enhances middle school education with an extended afternoon curriculum. Citizen Schools is currently at 37 campuses in seven states, serving 4,400 students. This new outreach brings us to Lowe's Grove Middle School in Durham, NC, to teach participating students about technology and practice computer programming using the Alice programming environment. A core feature of Citizen Schools is the WOW!, the final project of the middle school students. For our WOW, the students will create videogames or 3D virtual environments. Throughout the program, our students will learn about computer science theory and application to society through activities and videos.
As more and more technology becomes dependent on having a wireless network connection, it becomes increasingly essential to provide secure and efficient networking solutions. Different structures and solutions have been explored in recent studies, as with Philadelphia, PA or Austin, TX, but as a relatively new field it is important to study every aspect of any proposed city-wide setup. This project explores the efficiency and vulnerability of mesh networking, a self-healing and adapting cost-effective implementation of a distributed wireless networking over a large area, potentially such as the City of Raleigh.
Graduate and undergraduate students provide free one-on-one tutoring during weekly open lab hours to all CSC116 (Intro to Programming w/Java) who seek it. This allows for more support for these students, who may be unable to or uncomfortable with meeting with instructional staff. We coordinate the service with the 116 instructors to keep tutors informed of current assignments and to preserve academic integrity.
The underlying objective of the STARS Evaluation Team is trying to understand what real impact the STARS Alliance is having, and how effective the different projects and strategies have been in achieving the desired goals of the programm. As the Evaluation Team at NC State, our primary job is to help report back to the central organization activities that take place locally. In addition to such activity reporting, which helps us collect quantitative measures of success and gauge demographic distributions, we also help in qualitative reporting which includes a summary of projects and activities, as well as interviews with SLC students regarding their experiences related to computing and STARS.
This academic year, four full-time students who are members of STARS Alliance participated in technical and computer related internships with companies in Research Triangle Park, NC.
More information is available at https://sites.google.com/site/asergrp/projects/itutor.
The STARS Student Leadership Corps (SLC) website is a place for students, faculty, and sponsors to learn more about the STARS SLC. We provide information on the projects current STARS SLC students are undertaking, as well as information about the students themselves, and information for applying to or assisting with the STARS SLC program.
This year we will continue to update the look and feel, designed to be both aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. The website uses PHP and CSS to provide a modular and clean design to make the site easy to update and maintain. The website follows Section 508 accessibility guidelines for individuals with disabilities. We plan to use technologies such as Flash and Google Maps to provide cool new features. We also plan to create an online version of the STARS SLC application.
The Raleigh Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center has an activities room where residents can play Po-Ke-No, watch television, read newspapers/magazines, and participate in arts and crafts. Computer use can now be added to that list of activities. When the group made the initial visit to the nursing home it seemed like no one even touched the computer in the activities room. Now, there are about 4 residents with e-mail addresses who know the basics. Once every two weeks our group, consisting of two students from NC State and a few students from Shaw visit the nursing home and helps the residents with e-mail and other computer skills. We also intend to use a program called TypeFaster to help the residents learn to type properly. Our goal is to get the residents familiar and comfortable with using a computer on a regular basis so they can more easily stay in contact with their loved ones.
SPARCS is a middle school outreach program aimed at broadening participation in Computer Science. We offer monthly Saturday sessions to introduce students to fun and interesting concepts in Computer Science. These sessions are held from 10am-3pm on Saturday. During each session a workshop will be organized by SPARCS mentors who are knowledgeable students studying Computer Science at North Carolina State University. These monthly workshops include hands-on learning activities to introduce the students to computer science concepts and practical applications. Sample workshops include Alice programming, web design, and LEGO Mindstorm robotics. SPARCS was initiated in October 2007 and is now entering its third year of operation. Recently a large focus of the SPARCS project has been on documentation and empirical data to evaluate and improve the program moving forward.
More information is available at http://research.csc.ncsu.edu/stars/sparcs/
SPARCS @ DNS is an expansion outreach of SPARCS @ CCMMS and is in its first year of existence. The NCSU chapter of the STARS Alliance was fortunate enough this year to partner with Durham Nativity School (DNS), an all male middle school in Durham, NC. As with SPARCS @ CCMS, the goal of SPARCS @ DNS is to introduce computer science topics to adolescents in order to "spark" an early interest in the field. The SPARCS curriculum consists of basic computer science concepts that include introductory programming, website development, and robotics.
SPARCS @ DNS sessions are held bi-monthly on Saturday afternoons on Centennial Campus at NC State University. Specifically, sessions are located in the pair programming computer lab where students are able to benefit from a collaborative programming experience. During these sessions, students are first introduced to the concept of the day, and then they engage in interactive activities facilitated by our 5 SPARCS @ DNS leaders.
Fall 2009 sessions have been extremely successful and the SPARCS @ DNS team plans to continue this partnership during Spring 2010 with more advanced sessions that build upon this semester's topics.
We have partnered with USCRI, a non-profit organization that assists refugees and immigrants in resettling in United States, in teaching fundamental computer literacy to members of the Raleigh refugee community during the Spring 2010 semester. This outreach aims to assist participants with using word processing application to create r�sum�s and using web browser for local resources such as job search.