December 2018

Dear Teachers with GUTS,

Project GUTS and Teachers with GUTS wish you the best for the holiday season!

Over the past year, we have been delving deeply into research – investigating teachers’ development as computational thinkers and their enactment of the Project GUTS CS in Science curriculum during regular school day science classrooms.  We are excited by the innovation and determination teachers have shown in learning the content and tools, customizing the curriculum to meet their students’ needs, and connecting the curriculum to science learning.  We are learning so much with and from the teachers we work with. A big THANK YOU to all the teachers who are participating in the research study!  We couldn’t do this work without you. 

Here are some updates and recent developments:

December 15th Webinar postponed.

Due to conflicting schedules and the recent PD crunch we've decided to postpone the December webinar and start up again in the new year, on January 19, 2019.  We'll send out a reminder in the weeks prior.

StarLogo Nova improvements

Recently, two changes were made to StarLogo Nova.  One change was made to StarLogo Nova's rendering engine that improves the speed of drawing the screen. You may notice that StarLogo Nova can now redraw the screen faster.  The second change you may notice is that clicking on a red run code button at the top of the screen exposes a debugging hint showing where the problem exists. We hope this enhancement will help you and your students identify bugs in code faster and make the process of building a running model smoother.  Send us your feedback at


Project GUTS featured in CS ED Week!

Project GUTS was highlighted during CSEdWeek / Hour of Code. Project GUTS activities were in the spotlight during the December 3-8th CSEdWeek.  Teachers in Virginia showcased Project GUTS activities and were visited by CodeVA and the Governor of Virginia. In New Mexico, teachers ran Project GUTS activities to celebrate CS Ed Week. Kudos to the teachers who offered these activities!



On Computational Thinking

Two recent blog posts from Mark Guzdial’s ComputingEd blog coincide with our thoughts on computational thinking.  In the first one, Shuchi Grover discusses two different “types” of computational thinking: one type related to the CT used in Computer Science classrooms (primarily revolving around programming), and another type of CT used when integrating computational tools and techniques into other domains, such as science.

In Teachers with GUTS, we focus on the latter, the CT used when integrating computational tools and techniques into Science.  In addition, our practice, that of using/modifying/creating models to learn about scientific phenomena, necessitates the type of computational thinking used in CS - programming and debugging.  So it helps to think of CT as having two layers: a base layer that revolves around programming, and a upper layer that deals with applying CT in scientific endeavors.

In the second article, Judy Robertson argues that students want to know more about “the machine” and how code gets executed by the machine (a computer).  She states “Children are not going to be able to figure that out for themselves by dissecting old computers or by making the Scratch cat dance. We need to get better at explicitly explaining this in interesting ways.”

Recently, in Teachers with GUTS, we've been experimenting with teaching about how StarLogo Nova, the program, executes the code that we write. We are hopeful that exposing this deeper level -  how the program executes the instructions it has been given, and how the program keeps time and updates what we see on the screen, will lead to a more robust understanding of what we see when a simulation is running.

That's all for now, enjoy and have a wonderful holiday!
--Irene and the Project GUTS / Teachers with GUTS team!
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