Laboratory for Playful Computation

We create programmable technologies that make learning fun

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Trails Forward

Trails Forward Logo

Trails Forward is a browser based multiplayer simulation that gives players the opportunity to take on a variety of roles and interact with each other, nature, an economy, and a political system in a Wisconsin county. Players attempt to balance striving for success as a lumberjack, housing developer, or leader of a conservation non-profit with the sometimes conflicting goals of protecting animal species, sustainably harvesting forests, allowing development to occur, and more. Through seeing how their actions affect the world and the other characters around them, players are invited to think about the interplay between economic, environmental, political, and other systems.

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Blocky Talky Brick Logo

BlockyTalky is a low-cost, extensible, open source, programmable, networked toolkit for tangible creations. With it, users can build all manner of networked devices. Recent inventions include electronic musical instruments and remote control vehicles.

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Ben Shapiro

Ben is the McDonnell Family Professor of Engineering Education at Tufts University, where he is an assistant professor in the departments of Computer Science and Education, and a member of the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach. He is also the scholar in residence for Lewis Hall.

His research focuses on the design of playful and constructionist learning environments. He studies how engineering computational systems, including videogames, simulations, and social media, can help learners to further their personal interests. To do so, He creates new technologies for learning and investigate how people, including students and teachers, use them to learn together.

Aaron Tietz

Aaron is a second year MS student in Computer Science working on the Trails Forward project. Previously, he was a preschool teacher in San Diego and then earned an MA in Child Development (also from Tufts). He's excited for the opportunity to combine the fields of Human Development and Computer Science to create new and beneficial learning experiences. He enjoys playing sports, reading, and writing and filming comedy skits

Joe Sanford

Joe is a second year MS/PhD student in Computer Science and Cognitive Science, primarily working on the BlockyTalky project. Before arriving at Tufts, he earned a B.S. in Information Sciences and Technology from Penn State and spent 5 years in IT. He is interested in the learning processes of new STEM students, particularly programming and robotics, and creating tools to both allow new students to approach and learn new topics while concurrently allowing for easy evaluation and understanding of their progress through the application of computational modeling. Outside of class and the lab, he enjoys playing hockey and golf, playing video games, playing music (guitar, banjo, and more!), and working on automating his condo (with a Raspberry Pi, of course!).

Elise Deitrick

Elise is currently a STEM Education PhD student working on the Integrating Engineering and Literacy (IEL) project. She has a teaching certification in middle school math and received her B.S. in Computer Science with Math minor from the University of Texas at Dallas. She is interested in how to better engineering (especially computer science) education through the study of pedagogy and creation of tools. She holds the personal belief that guinea pigs are the best pets ever, as proven by her 2 guinea pigs, Jeffery and Adam.

Saad Farooq

Saad is finishing his Masters in Computer Science gearing up for Phd. His undergraduate degree was in electrical engineering and he later got a masters in IT from Carnegie Mellon before coming to Tufts. There he works as a web developer on the CEEO's Interlace project. His research interests are in the area of computer science education, specifically how to make computer science and programming more accessible to students at a younger age and importing more established educational research from related fields such as mathematics education research to the realm of CS Ed. His remaining hobbies since joining grad school as a married man with a kid include tinkering with Linux and programming technologies and well, trying not to go crazy.

Emily Quigley

Emily is a rising senior at Tufts, studying International Relations and Computer Science. At the LPC, Emily divides her time between working on the Trails Forward game project and imagining what the world would be like if it were one big video game. When she is not writing algorithms on the kitchen table, she is either climbing a mountain, dancing to BeeGees songs at the Rez Cafe, miming, or re-reading Harry Potter books.

Riley Meehan

Riley Meehan is an engineer, maker, designer, educator, tinkerer, and can’t stop picking up new hobbies. His research lives in the worlds of education, engineering, design, and sociology – focusing on how educational institutions design and assess the use of makerspaces as reflecting the existing commitments of a school community. His biggest weakness is not being able to say no, so ask him to get involved with whatever you’re working on. Trust me.

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