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Learning Objectives

Scratch to MicroWorlds

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Bits and Blocks

  • For students completing grades 4-6
  • Course Description: Have you wondered how you control every movement on the screen while playing video games? Programmers design the coordination of each and every possible move. Students unlock the mysteries behind the computer screen as they investigate fundamental concepts in computer programming. Using MicroWorlds software, students explore and test their ideas and develop their own 2-D multimedia projects and computer games, complete with animation, sound effects, movie clips, and music. This course encourages students to use their imagination and math skills, solve problems, and think creatively while developing simple computer programs. Students receive a copy of MicroWorlds at the conclusion of the course.
    Note: Additional $150 lab fee required.
  • Course number 38
  • Requirements: Admission Criteria: ≥ 95% national percentile rank in math on standardized achievement test; EXPLORE test; or Admission Portfolio.
  • Course Dates: June 30, 2013 July 19, 2013
  • Location: Evanston Campus
  • view syllabus

Course Formats

In addition to whole class, small group and one-on-one discussions, lessons are delivered in a range of online formats to support independent study and differentiate instruction based on your needs.

  • Video Lessons on various topics
  • Readings with problem-solving tips
  • Examples of solutions to sample problems in text and MicroWorlds project formats
  • Problems for you to solve, with solutions
  • Study Material for Exams with solutions
  • Support Material for Project Development including online documents and sample projects
  • iGoogle Accounts for communicating your reflections, questions and concerns about the course and its content, and receiving help
  • Course workspace with more details on course requirements

More About the Course

My Bits and Blocks classes (Levels 1 and 2) run each summer on the Northwestern campus. They are two of the many courses available for gifted and talented children through the Center for Talent Development.

This is the home page for Bits and Blocks Level 1. If you have completed Level 1 or already signed up for Level 2, you should check out the Bits and Blocks 2 page.

My favorite sites for MicroWorlds Logo are:, the website of the publishers of MicroWorlds Logo.
Logo Projects, a site by Cynthia Solomon, one of the founding mothers of Logo.
Rupert Russell's MicroWorlds Logo Links & Examples. This site has cool projects from kindergarten to university level.
Gary Stager's Logo Page. Gary Stager has been an author of documentation for MicroWorlds Logo for many years, is a former editor-in-chief of the Logo Exchange Journal and a Collaborator with the MIT Media Lab Future of Learning Group.

Advanced readers might enjoy the free, online three volume series by Brian Harvey called Computer Science Logo Style available at Brian Harvey's website. The text was based on a different version of Logo that can be downloaded from the web site. This text will be tough going for most students without help, but there are some interesting examples that your child might like to try out.

Bits and Blocks students might also enjoy the following sites, which include free, downloadable software and support: Scratch, Alice, and Greenfoot.

The standard text for Greenfoot is:

Michael Kolling, Introduction to Programming with Greenfoot: Object-Oriented Programming in Java with Games and Simulations. (Prentice Hall, 2009).

A cool book for Alice and Java is:

Wanda P. Dann, Stephen P. Cooper, and Barbara Ericson, Exploring Wonderland: Java Programming Using Alice and Media Computation. (Prentice Hall, 2009).

Content Development

TJ Leone

About the Center for Talent Development

Center for Talent Development (CTD), housed at Northwestern University's School of Education and Social Policy, is an accredited learning center and research facility that identifies, educates and supports gifted students and their families and serves as a leader in gifted education. Learn more about the Center for Talent Development.