I taught a mini-course as part of the Enrichment Mini-Course Program at Carleton University during the first week of May 2008 for 5 days, 5 hours per day. I taught more or less the same course from 2009-2012.
About the Program
Each year, Carleton University, the University of Ottawa, and La Cité Collegiale offer a week-long enriched learning experience to bright and highly motivated high school students in grades 8-12 (Ontario) and Sec. 2-5 (Québec). More than 2,500 students participate in this program annually, and Carleton hosts about 1000 students.
About fifty mini-courses are offered by Carleton University to grade 8 - 12 students from 22 school boards of Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. The mini-courses are taught by instructors and graduate students from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the Faculty Public Affairs and Management, the Faculty of Business, the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering and Design.
Computer Science and Games: Just For Girls!
Following is the 2009 version of my course description:
Are you a girl who's ever wondered what computer science was all about, but was too afraid to ask? Whether you are geeky or the opposite, this is your chance to find out! To learn about computer science, we're going to see how it is involved in the design and development of video games. After taking a quick look at the state of the industry and how women are involved, we will cover such topics as game design, usability, graphics, and artificial intelligence. Best of all, you will get to work on making your own game to take home at the end of the week! And don't worry; you won't even need to write a line of code if you don't want to.
My goal is that by offering a course just for female students, perhaps more will take the chance and see what it's about. I suspect that if the course was open to anyone (and I should point out that there is a games course for boys as well), then many girls would be too intimidated to show up. Indeed, despite the fact that they have had a female instructor, only one or two girls had signed up for previous open game-related courses offered.
You can view the slides from the course, and related materials, online here.
(A special shout-out goes to CS Unplugged, whose material I used for several activities in my course. These activities are a wonderful way to teach difficult topics in a fun and engaging way.)
Surveys, Papers and Presentations
A paper has been published in ACM's Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE)'s newsletter, inroads. The paper can be found in ACM's Digital Library, or you can read my submitted copy.
I gave a talk about the course at the 2009 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Notes and slides are available on the conference's notes wiki.
I also wrote summaries of the course with survey results on my blog: