In Poland, talent development is organized mainly outside or alongside the educational system. A large number of privately funded informatics contests and extra-curricular talent development programs for highly motivated students are available. However, traditional competitions also exist including national informatics Olympiads and competitions mainly supported by the Ministry of Education. In particular, we stimulate interest in informatics by organizing the annual nationwide InfoSukces contest. This contest was organized for the first time in 2015 when informatics education in Poland was experiencing difficulties recruiting new students, who were in growing demand on the labor market. The aim of the contest is now to make students aware that the jobs of the future require problem-solving, digital skills, and creative thinking, all of which can be taught through informatics. The contest also provides a platform for a unique series of activities, the goal of which is to support partnerships and knowledge flow between schools and universities. This article provides a case study of the final stage of the InfoSukces contest, which involves the participants developing a “work of art” in the Scratch programming environment. It also presents the holistic method for quantitative evaluation of the students’ creative visual-based programming projects.
At 21st century Computational Thinking (CT) is considered a fundamental skill that anyone should possess and develop from a young age. Serious games and more specifically educational games (EGs) are a promising means of introducing algorithmic thinking and programming concepts and engaging students through the process of learning. In this article, a new EG called BlocklyScript is presented. BlocklyScript aims to help students develop their CT by learning basic programming concepts, designing algorithms and correcting mistakes. During the designing phase different EGs were taken under consideration and an EG design framework was followed in order to provide a better user experience. The game was evaluated by 10 experienced computer science educators of primary and secondary schools. The positive results of this pilot evaluation show that BlocklyScript is expected to help students understand the basic concepts of CT. However, the game should be evaluated by more teachers and students in order to provide future researchers with safe results.
There are many important issues in informatics and many agree that algorithms and programming are most important issues that need to be included in informatics education (Dagiene and Jevsikova, 2012). In this paper, we propose how some of these issues can be easily taught using the notion of a formal system which consists of axioms and inference rules by which theorems can be proved. As is argued in (Dagiene and Jevsikova, 2012), we can introduce important topics in informatics using puzzle-like examples and students do not need to have prerequisites for learning. The materials presented in this paper have been used in a college-level elective class titled Hypertext and Computability in our university since the fall semester of 2008 and we believe that the contents proposed in this paper can be easily used to teach beginner students without technical backgrounds.
The first specification for the informatics Matura examination in Poland was published in 2000, and since May 2005 the examination has been organized every year. This article includes some reflections and remarks about formulating examination tasks and pupils' difficulties in solving the tasks collected by the author during her work as an examiner. In the article, four examination tasks from 2008 are considered. These remarks could be useful especially for informatics teachers.
It is easy to underestimate the difficulties of using floating-point numbers in programming. This is especially the case in pre-university informatics education and competitions, where one is often led to believe that floating-point arithmetic is a good approximation of the real number system. However, most of the mathematical laws valid for real numbers break down when applied to floating-point numbers. We explain this break-down and illustrate it with four simple examples.
In informatics education and competitions, the students need to be trained, programming assignments need to be formulated, submitted programs need to be evaluated, and variations among computing platforms need to be handled. We show that the use of floating-point numbers gives rise to various kinds of non-trivial difficulties in all these areas. Coping with such difficulties would require that teachers, students, and organizers gain experience in numerical mathematics.
We strongly recommend to avoid the use of floating-point numbers in pre-university education and competitions whenever possible. If you do want to use floating-point numbers, then study the literature of numerical mathematics and be prepared to do a convincing error analysis.