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!

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

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