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.
This paper presents an innovative educational approach to organizing the out-of-school teaching of programming in middle childhood. The proposed DGBL model includes three distinct educational phases, i.e. learning visual programming, programming and robotics, and programming and electronics. The research was carried out during the school years of 2017–2019. The study sample consists of 329 primary school students from K4 to K10 from the Lodzkie Voivodeship in Poland. The results were obtained from anonymous questionnaires completed by course participants. The answers confirm that the proposed approach helps children to learn the main concepts of computational thinking and programming. The described approach reinforces the essential idea in children that programming, engineering, mathematics and technology are intertwined in the modern world. Moreover, the approach combines and balances practical, methodological and pedagogical issues and is suitably integrated with out-of-school programming education to facilitate the teaching and learning process.