Each year, students in Deb Goudy’s Advanced Honors Computer Science class are challenged to tackle a long-term project that encompasses coding, strategy, and collaboration.
“Because we’re all interested in science, we wanted to create something to help teach other students,” Pedro Rivera ’16 explained. “Our project aims to improve the experience for those taking Biology courses by creating a simulation of a cell that a students can control. We hope that by incorporating game mechanics we can make the software a teaching tool that is fun and interesting.”
The “CellSim” software will be used to help freshmen identify and understand the parts and functions of cells. Upon completion, the program will be available on computers for teachers to use during lectures, and made accessible for students to study with at home.
The project, created entirely by the students, is another example of how courses at The Episcopal School of Dallas use an inquiry-based learning approach that allows teachers and students to work together to co-create the curriculum.
“A large amount of planning has to be done before we can even write our first line of code, so we work on the project both during class and at home,” Bennett Sessa said. “We need to have a concrete idea of what the project really is, and where we intend for it to go so the base infrastructure is all relevant, yet concise.”
Though the project is still in the development stage, Kohl Swift anticipates the process to take the remainder of the 2014-15 school year.
“We had some problems choosing the engine, but since we haven’t started to really build the project we anticipate more challenges,” Swift said. “We hope to complete it by the end of the year, but with everything we have planned I could see it stretching into our senior-year curriculum.”