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

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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