Tag Archives: Carnegie Mellon University

Embodied Learning Moves, Runs, Dances into Pittsburgh Schools

This fall, an already robust partnership between SMALLab, the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and Pittsburgh area schools is expanding.

SMALLab—which stands for Situated Multimedia Arts Learning Lab—is a kind of 3-D game interface that uses a ceiling-mounted projector, motion-sensor cameras, and a computer to create a kinesthetic learning environment for students.

In the coming year, CMU students will work with teachers from eight local districts to create SMALLab games and lessons tailored to their classrooms.

Carnegie Mellon grad students designed a SMALLab game to improve grammar skills. Photo/CMU

Carnegie Mellon grad students designed a SMALLab game to improve grammar skills. Photo/CMU

SMALLab was developed at Arizona State University in 2010, and has since found its way into classrooms throughout the country. The motion sensors help create a kinesthetic learning experience for the students, employing all their sense. Physics students playing a game about velocity, for example, will hear sounds that correspond to their speeds. Meanwhile, software tracks the students’ performance and provides feedback after the game.

The recent SMALLab expansion is in its nascent stage, but previous work by CMU students provides some insight into what’s to come. Since 2013, the ETC students have been developing SMALLab games, also called “scenarios,” for Pittsburgh’s Elizabeth Forward School District, the first public schools ever to use the technology.

An ETC team called Kinetics is currently wrapping up work on two SMALLab projects for the district.

Tasked with creating a scenario that would teach third to fifth graders arithmetic, the team has produced a game that has the students doing math while also learning about nutrition. In the competitive game, the kids have to fix an incomplete recipe by selecting fruits, which each have a specified health value.

After testing the product on the students, the CMU programmers have made a number of changes. The more motivation for experimentation, and the more visual feedback, the more the students were engaged, they learned, according to Aaron Li, a CMU master’s student and a member of the Kinetics team. Plus, they had to adjust the interface for young people who hadn’t quite reached adult heights yet.

This kind of “embodied learning” gives kids something traditional technology can’t.

“They have to physically move their bodies, and this will make them master or remember the skills better than if they just look at a screen or textbook,” Li said.

Mina Johnson-Glenberg, a cognitive scientist and chief learning officer at SMALLab, writes at Getting Smart that the platform is the product of “a long research history that supports the efficacy of students ‘doing something’ in order to learn it.”

With the latest expansion, teachers in a variety of subjects will get a chance to use SMALLab. Already, the platform hosts a wide range of scenarios. In one game that is popular at Elizabeth Forward Middle School, students adjust virtual mirrors to learn about angles. In another game, “Disease Transmission,” students help a virtual population survive a pandemic. They use science, critical thinking, and teamwork to tackle resource scarcity and control the disease.

Like all the best ed tech, SMALLab is an unusual tool that builds classic skills: collaboration, problem-solving.

Li said he gets a bit jealous of his young clients. “At their age, it would have been the perfect learning platform for me,” he said.

If You Give a Student (a Fraction of) a Cookie . . .

As an undergraduate at Columbia University, Eliane Stampfer Wiese thought she might want to become a teacher. The computer science major enrolled in a teacher-training program at Barnard, where she quickly found she was more fascinated by studying how students learn than by teaching them.

“I’d be working with a student trying to explain something and thinking that someone must have looked at the best way to explain this concept,” Wiese said. “Or has someone looked at the best way to explain this concept? I found I was drawn to those questions.”

“I think teachers would probably be surprised that a lot of the reasoning that adults and instructional designers take for granted is actually very difficult for students.”

Wiese has just received a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University, where her research turned up interesting revelations about how young students learn math—and what adults might get wrong.

Math learning looks different than it did when Wiese was growing up in the 1990s. Today, there is a stronger emphasis on reasoning and logic—teaching kids why a solution makes sense rather than having them memorize the process. To prepare kids for 21st century learning, math educators want them to be able to tackle complex problems. Common Core math instruction places more emphasis on the conceptual understanding of mathematics than on procedural memorization.

“But actually creating instruction that does that for students in a way that they can understand is really difficult to do—and also interesting,” Wiese said.

Take fractions, the focus of her doctoral research and a common line of inquiry at CMU. Fraction addition, she said, demands a “kind of reasoning that seems very obvious to adults” but is not so clear-cut to kids.

While the steps to fraction addition are not necessarily logical, the doctoral student thought it should at least be clear to the student when an answer was wildly incorrect. Because you are adding two positive sums when you combine fractions, the resulting quantity should clearly be bigger than each original piece. So as long as students know the size of the fractions and the size of the sum, they should be able to determine whether the solution is even possible, right? Wrong, Wiese found out.

Through a series of studies with Pittsburgh-area public school students, Wiese’s research found that while the concept of adding positive magnitudes might make sense to kids when the equation involves whole numbers, the lesson is not always transferable to fractions. On top of that, our traditional graphical representations of fractions (a brightly colored rectangle divided into four pieces, say) do not necessarily make sense to students.

“I think teachers would probably be surprised that a lot of the reasoning that adults and instructional designers take for granted is actually very difficult for students,” Wiese said. She cautions that her research does not provide conclusive advice to educators, but said it speaks to the power of scaffolding.

Her best results came when she broke the process into smaller steps, starting with the graphical representations and adding numerical symbols only after the kids understood the images.

Wiese is still researching learning, only now she is a postdoc at UC Berkeley. She has mostly left her fractions in Pittsburgh, but continues to study visual representations. This time, she is looking at integrating graphs into science instruction.

Wiese said she will always have fond memories of Pittsburgh. For a doctoral student interested in learning science, she said, Pittsburgh was the place to be. CMU’s multidepartmental approach to learning science, specifically through the Program in Interdisciplinary Education Research, led to a rich cross-pollination of ideas between fields. And high-tech research facilities helped her collect data.

Even across the country, she hopes to continue debunking adult assumptions about learning and making the fundamental concepts accessible to kids.

There may be easier ways to offer visual representations. After all, Wiese said, if you tell a fifth grader you’re going to give him two cookies of a certain size, and instead give him one single cookie that isn’t twice as big, he would know there was something wrong with that picture.

 

 

 

Cybersecurity: A Critical Component of Tech Ed

What does privacy look like? Earlier this year, Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab posed that question to respondents ages 5 to 91. For part of the project, representatives from the tech research and security lab, along with CMU artists, visited Pittsburgh schools and asked the students to draw their answers.

Some of the younger participants—whose work is assembled into a collection called Privacy Illustrated—drew pictures of masks or of kids hiding under blankets. But plenty of the older students’ images invoked social media, cell phones, and even the NSA.

Savvy students know that the internet is both an endless source of information and inspiration as well as a potential danger zone. But they may not know how to best protect themselves. As schools continue to introduce tech tools this new school year, more are developing cybersecurity literacy alongside the technical know-how and other “digital literacies.”

Given that adults are plenty prone to hack attacks, identity theft, and scams too, it can be overwhelming for educators to figure out how to avoid putting their students at risk. (And often students are way ahead of teachers. To wit: the hacking of iPads in Los Angeles school district and in Indiana among others). Districts have long been concerned about issues ranging from student identity theft to plagiarism and cyberbullying. But with each year, digital tools become further integrated into schoolwork, and security becomes even more of an imperative. Districts and companies have lately begun developing curricula aimed at teaching cybersafety in an engaging manner, with some new options out there in time for this academic year.

In Iowa this fall, middle schools are adopting a curriculum created by Iowa State University. Doug Jacobson, the project lead and a professor of engineering, told FedScoop that the lessons are designed to help teachers incorporate cybersecurity topics into existing school subjects.

“That would allow teachers in a math class to talk about passwords, because they’re nothing more than a complex mathematical concept,” he said.

Less immersive though similar is Common Sense Media’s Digital Bytes project. Aimed at teenagers, each byte corresponds with a digital issue—cyberbullying, copyright law, personal data. Young users can watch videos and projects created by other teens proposing ways to respond to the dilemmas, or upload their own.

Along with imperiled security comes the need for people willing to fight it.

Some educators are using games-based learning to help teach these concepts. The Center for Identity at the University of Texas at Austin developed a digital game that teaches kids ages 8-10 appropriate social behavior online. According to the Center, children are 35 percent more likely than adults to be victims of identity theft. In the game, they wade through messages, determining whether to send them to their friends, their whole contact list, or nobody. For older students, PBS’ NOVA offers a cybersecurity game where players try to defend a company that is targeted by hackers.

Although these threats are real, and unnerving from an adult’s perspective, abstinence is not the answer. Crafting an online presence and sharing digital creations can be empowering, help kids connect with their peers, or serve as a resume or portfolio that can lead to later opportunities.

Along with imperiled security comes the need for people willing to fight it. Some cybersecurity education includes a career-oriented component, so kids can understand that they are not just potential victims but could play a powerful role in reducing the risks. According to the Peninsula Press, openings for cybersecurity jobs are skyrocketing, with over 209,000 positions available in March.

As of last year, half of all states counted computer science credits as a math or science graduation requirement. Tech education is catching on—and critical complementary cyberliteracy lessons are slowly catching up.

 

Learning to ‘Speak’ Tech

Amidst all the playing, programming, and tinkering we wrote about for our story on the Remake Learning Digital Corps last month, the work going on at El Círculo Juvenil de Cultura stood out. The Carnegie Mellon University-sponsored program caters to Spanish-speaking youth. Their mission:  To familiarize young students with their heritage and, increasingly, to provide them with digital learning opportunities.

While working to bolster the kids’ literacy in both their native languages and in English, El Círculo staff has recently added digital literacy to its agenda.

Many of the 6-to-12-year-olds who attend the program have access to cell phones or iPads, said director Felipe Gómez. “But beyond being users, what we’re interested in is giving them some idea of how to create the technology and how to explore their own identities with technology,” he said.

El CírculoHe is describing a perennial task for educators, who know how savvy their students are as consumers and users of technology and want to leverage this interest and acuity for educational or civic ends. The challenge is even more pronounced in bilingual populations, Gómez said. The kids he works with often attend under-resourced schools and come from families who may lack the resources to facilitate digital education.

Findings from the Pew Research Center corraborate Gómez’s anecdotes. Along with their black peers, Latino youths are no strangers to technology, using digital devices even more than their white counterparts. Thirty-two percent of Hispanic teens report going online “almost constantly.”

But professor S. Craig Watkins who studies young people’s digital behavior, finds that digital prowess on its own does not equal digital empowerment.

“While digital media is more widely distributed than ever before, not all learning ecologies, literacies, and pathways to digital participation are equal,” he wrote at the Connected Learning Research Network.

While bilingual students might miss out on some of the digital education that their native-speaking peers are more likely to receive, they are also in a powerful position if they have access to scaffolding and guidance.

We call them digital literacy and coding languages for a reason. Technological agility is another means of communication, one that is increasingly valuable in professional and civic settings. If bilingual students can add this third “language” to their repertories, they are poised for a wealth of opportunities.

Isabel Gordillo, a Digital Corps member and volunteer at El Círculo, is a good example. A native of Ecuador who started learning English as a teenager, and who also speaks Czech and French, Gordillo uses her multilingualism in her career as a translator and court interpreter. Her tech savvy has come in handy when using translation software—and when securing the Digital Corps gig.

“We’re trying to foster the idea that bilingualism is an advantage,” Gordillo said. “And on top of that, if you can combine it with literacy in terms of how to think critically about solving problems with computers and programming and design, I think that makes a very strong set of skills these kids are going to have later in life.”

Thoughtful educators of bilingual kids, in and out of school, try to cultivate digital and linguistic literacy in tandem.

Some use digital tools to help non-native-speaking students settle into classrooms or social settings. One preschool teacher helped a boy who spoke only Chinese use a digital storytelling program to introduce himself and his background to his classmates.

“With the connection of seeing and hearing about his home, the communication began to flow,” wrote Diane Bales on the National Association for the Education of Young Children website. “The children worked together to find other ways to communicate, and the boy’s English skills grew quickly.”

Educators should be aware of the specific needs and existing skills of dual-language learners when it comes to digital literacy. When kids are given opportunities to develop bilingualism and tech skills, it makes for “a very powerful combination,” Gordillo said.

Gamer-in-Chief: Catching Up with Drew Davidson

As director and teaching professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center, Drew Davidson has his finger on the pulse of the latest and greatest in game design and learning. And he’s always pushing the envelope.

Davidson runs ETC Press, an open-source publishing imprint. He’s also the editor of its Well Played Journal, which focuses on video games, value, and meaning. Davidson led a team of designers to create the Chicago Public Library’s YOUmedia, a digital space for teens now replicated throughout the country. In addition, he’s been a leading voice in national conversations on game play, storytelling, interactive media, and more.

Remake Learning: What’s new in your approach to teaching game design to students?

Drew Davidson: We’re getting more formalized, leading an undergraduate game design minor as well as exploring a graduate concentration in game design.

Think, “We can work together” instead of “I’m brilliant.”

What do you consider your/your organization’s biggest accomplishment as part of the Kids+Creativity Network?

We’re definitely proud of the work on MAKESHOP with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and all the great work we’re doing with the Elizabeth Forward School District. High-schoolers there are continuing to take game design courses through the Entertainment Technology Academy we helped develop. And most recently, a team of students has been working on building an interactive Energy Lab in Elizabeth Forward’s middle school.

What makes a collaboration successful? 

I think there’s three key things: (1) Check your ego at the door. (2) Come in with a “yes, and” attitude, and think, “We can work together” instead of “I’m brilliant.” (3) Be open to other people’s expertise and have mutual respect. (4) Also, dedicate the time. The process will definitely pull you from your “job.” Relatedly, someone must own the process of coordination—keep the ball rolling and nudge people to stay in it.

How has the Kids+Creativity Network influenced your work?

It’s enabled us to make a more direct connection around the area, which has grounded our work in real-world impact. The spirit of collaboration is strong in Pittsburgh.

What’s the toughest part about the work you do?

The paperwork. While important, it’s the least inspiring part.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Pittsburgh on a Sunday afternoon?

Hang out with my wife and our pack of pets—three dogs and two cats.

New Website Highlights Maker Opportunities in Higher Education

When President Obama called on higher-ed institutions to create more maker initiatives last summer, Carnegie Mellon University answered the call.

The new MakeSchools site

The new MakeSchools site

Partnering with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Science Foundation, and the other members of the MakeSchools Alliance, CMU recently launched MakeSchools.org, a site aiming to connect the dots between the making happening in universities and best practices in maker education.

For those of you who may not have heard, the maker movement is a growing network of do-it-yourself enthusiasts who are building everything from marshmallow cannons to hovercrafts in garages at Maker Faires and state-of-the-art makeshops. The movement is making its way into classrooms as well, taking advantage of kids’ natural inclination to tinker and work with their hands.

Currently, 25 universities have profiles on MakeSchools.org, but more are in the works. The site’s goal is, in part, to increase awareness of the potential for making on college campuses.

“We’re working to showcase how making is an enormous catalyst for innovation that leads to economic, societal and community impact,” said Daragh Byrne, Intel Special Faculty at CMU and one of the managers of the site, in a press release.

Although CMU is known here in Pittsburgh as a leader in spurring the maker movement, the site lets prospective students or makers get a broader sense of what kind of making is happening nationwide.

For example, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland is in the process of renovating a $35 million, seven-story, 50,000-square-foot makerspace called think[box], set to open next August. Right now, a much smaller think[box] is running in a separate building. But students there are already building mini airplanes, printing with three 3-D printers, and using 3-D microscopes. Think[box] is open to all students and the public—unique for a university makerspace.

Ian Charnas, who is spearheading the new think[box] (he was also one of the designers of that cool waterfall swing), was the first leader on the site to be interviewed regarding his school’s making culture.

“When you leave the sphere of consumerism, when you bridge the gap from only having bought or looked at things, and enter the world of the producer, the inventor, the maker—your mindset changes from someone hoping for a better world to someone scrambling to make it happen,” Charnas said.

Makerspaces, like the ones at CMU and Case Western, are complete maker heavens. But in Pittsburgh, kids are getting the chance to experience making much earlier than college.

As we continue to see the potential of rapid prototyping and 3-D printing, it’s even clearer how beneficial equipping kids with a maker mindset can be for day-to-day problem solving. Last month, a video about a huskie named Derby born with deformed legs went viral. A group from a company called 3D Systems created a set of custom prosthetics designed just for him. The prosthetics had looped bottoms so he wouldn’t dig them into the dirt as he ran. Maker education can help today’s students take part in this kind of exciting design and rapid prototyping. And this mindset doesn’t have to start in a university lab.

A person’s making journey can start anywhere—a garage, a shop class, a kitchen table, or an afterschool space devoted to helping kids get more chances for hands-on learning. We’re working to give kids more opportunities for this kind of hands-on learning and designing here in Pittsburgh.

We recently wrote about students in the South Fayette district who will be building with a robotics platform called VEX IQ starting later this year. And at community makerspaces like Assemble, MAKESHOP at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and TechShop, kids and their families are working with looms, creating paper, and learning to silk screen. And, in 2015, we expect this will be only the beginning.

How Can We Improve MOOCs?

Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are one of the most-hyped recent developments in education.

As Eric Westervelt reported for NPR’s “All Things Considered,” “In theory, students saddled by rising debt and unable to tap into the best schools would be able to take free classes from rock-star professors at elite schools via Udacity, edX, Coursera, and other MOOC platforms.” These online courses seemed capable of fulfilling the internet’s early promise of making knowledge accessible to all.

But whether MOOCs can make good on that promise remains to be seen.

Despite the high enrollment numbers, according to many estimates approximately 90 percent of people who sign up for most MOOCs fail to complete the course. In addition, a few high-profile flops have made headlines in the past two years. For example, San Jose State University’s highly publicized experiment in offering for-credit MOOCs, in partnership with online course developer Udacity, fell far short of its goals.

“Completion rates and grades were worse than for those who took traditional campus-style classes. And the students who did best weren’t the underserved students San Jose most wanted to reach,” Westervelt said in the NPR segment.

The University of Pennsylvania released a 2013 study of MOOCs that said only approximately one-half of those who registered viewed a lecture and that completion rates for the courses averaged only 4 percent.

Even Sebastian Thrun, cofounder of Udacity, has acknowledged the failure of MOOCs to live up to their early promise: “Online education that leaves almost everybody behind except for highly motivated students, to me, can’t be a viable path to education.”

The major reason for these failures, posits Geoffrey A. Fowler in the Wall Street Journal, is that “for all but the most self-reliant, online learning can be isolating.” Disengaged students are more likely to perform poorly or drop out altogether.

Some instructors mitigate this problem by recording more audio or video segments instead of only providing written lessons. They also update content frequently, send motivational messages to students, or congratulate them for work completed. Online mentors, active discussion boards, quizzes, and other activities to break up lessons also have been proven to increase student retention and engagement.

Another tactic some online course providers have used is charging a nominal fee, from $30 to $90, to confirm a student’s participation in and completion of a course. Coursera found that students who had shelled out cash for a course were more likely to complete it.

Regardless of the delivery method, social interaction is key to effective learning, studies have found. “The most important thing that helps students succeed in an online course is interpersonal interaction and support,” Shanna Smith Jaggars, assistant director of Columbia University’s Community College Research Center, said in the Wall Street Journal article.

A recent study has suggested that blended learning, which combines interactive online components with face-to-face instruction, can be effective as traditional classroom instruction.

Now comes the recent announcement that Carnegie Mellon University has received a Google Focused Research Award to tap the potential of MOOCs. A multidisciplinary team of researchers will use data-driven approaches to develop techniques for “automatically analyzing and providing feedback on student work, for creating social ties between learners, and for designing MOOCs that are effective for students with a variety of cultural backgrounds.”

As part of the research, Emma Brunskill, assistant professor of computer science at CMU, and Kenneth Koedinger, professor at CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) and director of the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, will leverage machine learning techniques to personalize MOOCs for each user, identifying which subject areas the student has already mastered and which might offer additional learning opportunities.

The second component—led by Carolyn Rose, associate professor in CMU’s Language Technologies Institute, and HCII professor Robert Kraut—will consist of determining ways to improve retention through increased socialization opportunities, such as mentoring and team tasks. The two will also explore how to better identify students at risk of dropping out of the course and more effectively engage these at-risk students in coursework.

Finally, the team will research ways to make courses more fun and engaging through game play and culturally relevant content for users outside the United States. That component will be led by Amy Ogan, assistant professor in HCII, and Jessica Hammer, assistant professor in HCII and the Entertainment Technology Center.

Google will provide $300,000 in annual funding for two years, with the potential to extend the research to a third year.

CMU hopes that the research will help MOOCs live up to that early hype.

“Unless the MOOCs pay attention to how people actually learn, they will not be able to improve effectiveness, and will end up as just a passing fad,” said Justine Cassell, associate vice provost of technology strategy and impact at CMU and codirector of the Simon Initiative, a university-wide program to use science and technology to improve student learning.

Photo/ Ilonka Hebels

Why They Love to Learn

Our new occasional series highlights exceptional students who’ve fallen in love with learning and the unique opportunities in and around Pittsburgh that have triggered their passions. Last week we profiled 14-year-old Caroline Combemale, who in addition to being a full time student at Agora Cyber Charter School, also happens to be an award-winning chess player and YouTube developer. This week we talk with an 18-year-old game designer Allyssa Dangel. Here’s more:

Allyssa Dangel: ‘Lunch is no longer my favorite class’

In the spring of her sophomore year, Allyssa Dangel visited her counselor’s office with an issue in her schedule. She needed to add a class, one to replace the study hall she no longer felt she needed. The only option that struck her interest? A brand new course called “Gaming Through the Ages.”

The course turned out to be the unexpected catalyst for a 180-degree turn in Dangel’s high school experience. Part of Elizabeth Forward High School’s Entertainment Technology Academy, “Gaming Through the Ages” kick-started a sudden zeal for learning and a passion for game design—a career she hadn’t even considered before.

“I didn’t think of myself as smart enough of a person to be a doctor, or good enough with my hands to be a carpenter or something crazy. But when this came along I thought, ‘This is something I could really get into,’” says 18-year-old Dangel, now a senior. “Being in those classes is my favorite part of the day. Lunch is no longer my favorite class.”

The Entertainment Technology Academy (ETA) teaches the principals of game design. Created in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, it was developed with the goal of getting students engaged in their education by incorporating something 97 percent of them do outside of school—play video games. “Gaming Through the Ages,” the first prerequisite in a sequence of over 10 classes, focuses on the history of games from all cultures. It combines a little bit of everything—math, history, problem solving, writing—and a lot of playing hands-on games.

“I didn’t think of myself as smart enough of a person to be a doctor, or good enough with my hands to be a carpenter. But when this came along I thought, ‘This is something I could really get into.’” 
The ETA program resonated so well with Dangel because it combined her two biggest outside-of-school hobbies: art and video games.  Dangel grew up playing “Tomb Raider” and racing games, but her current favorite is the apocalyptic RPG “The Last of Us.” She spends her time outside of school writing fiction and drawing in her sketchbook. But until she met CMU graduate game design students, she never pictured blending the two together into a potential career.

Math teacher Mary Wilson, who taught Dangel’s “Gaming Through the Ages” class, says Dangel always got good grades, but was never really one to seek attention or latch on to an interest. Until she found herself in the course. “Allyssa just absolutely took off from there,” Wilson says. “She made her own plan; ‘Ok, this is what I want to do. I now see that I can take my personal interest in video games and art and formalize that with an educational plan.’”

Dangel started becoming more and more invested in anything her school offered having to do with technology or game design. Wilson says Dangel now said “Yes” to volunteer opportunities, trips, and just about anything offered.

Then, Dangel was invited to speak on a panel at the Reimagining Education Summit in Washington D.C., hosted by Andrea Mitchell. The audience of 200 (not to mention the TV viewership) didn’t make Dangel nervous though—she says she was prepared to talk.

“[Kids] seem to lose interest,” Dangel said, when asked why so many kids give up in school. “They feel that they really don’t need this education in the real world because it’s just your everyday math and English. But if we turn all the math and English into something interesting, maybe something different, and apply more technology to it, they might become more interested.”

With all the game knowledge she’d gained through the ETA program, last summer Dangel applied for the selective CMU National High School Gaming Academy. She spent six weeks in workshops and classes, by the end designing the futuristic art for a strategy game called “Proto-Wars.”

As she heads into her senior year, Dangel is researching colleges with game design programs. She’s looking forward to the internship she’ll have at an outside gaming company as part of the ETA program. With her parents and mentors supporting her, she plans to continue studying to be a game maker.

“The way my life got really extraordinary was all serendipitous,” she says of the sudden enthusiasm she’s found for going to school. “It was all spontaneous and it was all by accident, but it was a great accident.”