Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 09:40

When STEM Fuse develops new courses we try very hard to balance a number of factors like how do we introduce ALL elements of STEM? What technologies should we use, what technical skills are the most important for a student to learn in relation to future employment and then finally how do we make that all “teachable”?

When developing the courses in game design and apps design we had to choose which platforms to use and which programming languages to teach in. We chose to use Game Maker as the platform for our intro level course and then C# and Java in more advanced classes. While C# and Java are terrific languages to learn and are the languages AP tests, after talking to several college instructors and faculty at various institutions around the country we are also going to start building C lessons with exercises as well.

While state and national standards sometimes specify (I think mistakenly, but that’s another post) the language(s) that should be taught in a high school level computer science class very rarely is good old C mentioned. That should probably change and STEM Fuse is going to help a little bit on that front.

We are headquartered in Sioux Falls SD and so after speaking with those faculty members and having that same idea reinforced with one of our local universities – South Dakota St. University (SDSU) – we decided we should include some C worksheet exercises and project lessons. Professor George Hammer, Assistant Department Head of SDSU’s Department of Computer Science in SDSU’s College of Engineering said “C# is a terrific language to learn and has enormous use in industry but it’s a Porsche, C is a reliable Jetta. I want my college freshmen to learn to drive something first before they get the Porsche.”

On a literal level I agree. As a father of three terrific kids ranging from 22-17 I would feel better with them in a Jetta for now. So would you if you are driving anywhere between the Twin Cities area of MN and Eastern South Dakota. But we are also really listening to the real point about teaching and learning programming languages. So we are starting work with SDSU on developing some very cool C lessons with exercises that will have our students program a robot, housed on the SDSU campus, in C and then they will be able to Skype in and control the robot right there at the SDSU computer science lab. Run the robot stationed in Brookings SD through a maze and obstacle course from their high school classroom. A very mini version of what NASA is doing on Mars right now. Awesome!

So stick with us. If you are looking for C lessons and exercises / C worksheet exercises or a great way to teach C programming we will have something for you shortly. We will also plan to add these new C lesson exercises to our existing GAME:IT, GAME:IT Advanced and MOBILE APP:IT courses. And immediately after that we will work on developing something similar C lessons and exercises for middle and elementary schools as well.

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