Date of Award

6-2012

Degree Name

MS in Computer Science

Department

Computer Science

Advisor

Phillip Nico

Abstract

Computing has become an integral part of modern America. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between 2008 and 2018, the United States will have 1.4 million job openings in computing fields [1]. Since the early 2000's (just after the "dot com bust"), the number of students enrolled in computing majors (Computer Science, Computer Engineering, etc.) dropped precipitously by over 50%, only starting to rise again in 2009 [2]. One way to rectify to this gap between demand and supply is to start training students in computational thinking during high school. While the Computer Science Advanced Placement AB test has been retired, a new AP test called "CS Principles" has been added to the suite of tests [3], highlighting the importance of computing to a modern education. Not only will we need more computing professionals, people in other professions will need to have computing skills. We propose in this thesis a comparison of two computing platforms. Scratch is a well-proven platform that teaches core programming concepts through a graphical programming interface. Arduino boards are open-source microcontrollers with an accompanying development environment and C-like language. We develop a parallel curriculum in Scratch and Arduino and compare the two. While we are unable to draw conclusive results from our quantitative study, from our qualitative research we see that Arduino is unsuitable for teaching core programming concepts to computing novices.