She turned code into 'spells,' and the results are very Harry Potter. In the best way.

Learnio computer codeus!

When one teacher turned coding into casting spells, things got very Harry Potter in the very best way.

Until University of California San Diego's Sarah Guthals came up with this new approach to educational games, most were like chocolate covered broccoli: a thin layer of yummy (play) hiding a big old piece of yuck (learning).


"I love this term chocolate covered broccoli. And that has been what educational games have been up until now." Sarah says.

Most were like this:

According to Sarah,

"You shouldn't have to stop playing to go do the learning, and you shouldn't have to stop learning to go do the playing."

So she created CodeSpells, an educational game that teaches coding and computer science. And the results are truly magical.

Learnio computera codeus! Image via "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

All the spell-casting, none of the pure-evil life-threatening stuff. Here's how it works:

First, kids study their spells.

With a pen and paper!

"Getting the kids to actually write the spells down on paper, it's a slower process, and they actually think about it more"

The spells start out pretty basic. But as the CodeSpells Kickstarter points out, as players get more fluent in the coding of CodeSpells, they can eventually "code in typed Javascript!" That's huge.

Then they team them up to cast their spells.

It's the industry standard of a driver and a navigator in coding to work as a specific type of team, so these kids are learning early.

The teamwork not only helps them work together, it makes them better computer scientists!

"Because they have to articulate what it is they want, they start to use the language of computer science much more expertly."

And once they've learned spells, it's time to make stuff.

Stuff THEY want to make.

Guthals uses the concept of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) in her lessons.

And the results are so creative!

"It's important to show that computer science is expressive."

"Everything related to STEM, you're going to have to have some creativity."

The personal touch that the A in STEAM — art — has done wonders to inspire kids to keep pursuing coding, even outside of the classroom.

Instead of using their code to create boring things — one thing a lot of computer science programs do is make kids write code that makes a calculator (snooze) — they make their own art projects. Comic books, video games — art that moves!

Guthals' goal is to make this teaching system accessible for schools everywhere.

Most of the time, if (and that's a big if) there's a computer science class in schools, it's because there's one teacher who has experience in computer science. Most teachers don't have that experience. So computer science doesn't get taught.

Guthal's ideas could change all that.

I don't have to tell you that we're living in a world where computer and smartphone technology is becoming more and more important and exciting. Or that teaching kids how to MAKE technology should be as important teaching them to ENJOY and USE technology.

But I told you anyway. Because our kids are missing out.

I'm sharing this so that more people know about the exciting future ahead and the work being done to give our kids such a gift and so that we can all watch the young wizards who are already making it happen.

For more of a peek at the game Guthals created, check out this video!

Heroes
Facebook / Mikhail Galin

Putting your pet in cargo during a flight isn't always safe. In 2016, the Department of Transportation reported a total of 26 pet deaths and 22 injuries on flights. Because conditions in cargo can be uncomfortable for animals, the Humane Society recommends taking your pet aboard when you fly, or just leaving it at home.

It's not surprising that one Russian man didn't want to put his overweight cat in cargo during an eight-hour flight from Moscow to Vladivostok. What is surprising is the great lengths he took to fly with his four-legged friend.

Russian airline Aeroflot allows pets to fly inside the plane's cabin, as long as the cat weighs under 17.6 pounds and stays in its carrier during the flight. When Mikhail Galin went to check in, he was told he couldn't fly with his four-year old cat, Viktor. Viktor weighed in at 22 pounds and would have to be relegated to cargo.

But Viktor was sick from their earlier flight from Riga, Latvia to Moscow. And besides, Viktor had been allowed to fly inside the cabin during that flight. The airline staff didn't even bother to make Viktor sit on the scales. Galin was unable to persuade staff to bring his fur baby on board.

"To all attempts to explain that the cat won't survive there on an 8-hour flight with the baggage and would haunt her in her nightmares for the rest of her life, she (the Aeroflot staff member) replied that there are rules," Galin wrote in a Facebook post translated from Russian.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Kelvin Octa from Pexels

Newborn babies don't seem to do much beyond eating and pooping and, of course, hiccupping. A lot. Parenting advice on how to cure a baby's hiccups runs the whole gamut. It's recommended parents try everything from nursing to stop feeding the baby so much, from giving the baby gripe water to letting the hiccups play their course. But when your baby hiccups too much, you shouldn't freak out. There's a good reason why.

A new study published in Clinical Neurophysiology found that hiccups play an important role in a baby's development. Researchers from the University College London found 217 babies for their study, but only looked at 13 newborns with persistent hiccups. Ten of those babies hiccupped when they were awake, and three hiccupped during their "wriggly" sleep. We have no idea how the scientists got any work done with all that cuteness lying around.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

Actress Kristen Bell and "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon showed off their vocal and comedic chops on Tuesday night when the performed a medley of 17 Disney songs, spanning nine decades, in just five minutes.

The duo started with 1940's "When You Wish Upon a Star" and ended with 2013's "Let it Go" from "Frozen."

Bell will reprise her role as Anna in Disney's upcoming "Frozen 2."

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Ask almost any woman about a time a man said or did something sexually inappropriate to them, and she'll have a story or four to tell. According to a survey NPR published last year, 81% of women report having experienced sexual harassment, with verbal harassment being the most common. (By contrast, 43% of men report being sexually harassed. Naturally harassment toward anyone of any sex or gender is not okay, but women have been putting up with this ish unchecked for centuries.)

One form of verbal sexual harassment is the all too common sexist or sexual "joke." Ha ha ha, I'm going to say something explicit or demeaning about you and then we can all laugh about how hilarious it is. And I'll probably get away with it because you'll be too embarrassed to say anything, and if you do you'll be accused of being overly sensitive. Ha! Won't that be a hoot?

Keep Reading Show less
popular