Bootstrap is a curricular module for students ages 12-16, which teaches algebraic and geometric concepts through computer programming. At the end of the module, students have a completed workbook filled with word problems, notes and math challenges, as well as a videogame of their own design, which they can share with friends and family. Our one-page overview summarizes our approach and its connection to algebra.
Bootstrap leverages students' excitement around videogames to teach algebraic concepts through programming.
We work with schools, districts and tech-educational programs across the country, helping teachers reach thousands of students each year. Bootstrap has been used in both math and technology classes, often by teachers with limited prior experience teaching computing. We believe strongly in high-quality professional development, and our hands-on teacher-training workshops cover both content and pedagogic techniques for delivering Bootstrap effectively.
Knowing how to write code is good, but it doesn't make you a programmer. In addition to learning a full-strength programming language, Bootstrap teaches solid program design skills, such as stating input and types, writing test cases, and explaining code to others. After Bootstrap, these skills can be put to use in other programming languages, letting students build on what they've learned.
A Note for Parents
Before algebra, your child's math homework was all about computing an answer, by adding, subtracting, solving, etc. Once Algebra introduces functions, however, everything changes. Rather than "solving for x", they'll be asked to think about whether a function f(x) is linear, how many roots it has, etc. The jump from "getting the answer" to "describing a function" is challenging for students, as it requires them to think more abstractly than ever before. Algebra isn't just harder — it's completely different.
Bootstrap is a joint partnership between Emmanuel Schanzer (a computer scientist and former teacher, now at the Harvard Graduate School of Education), Kathi Fisler (WPI), and Shriram Krishnamurthi (Brown University). Emma Youndtsmith is our regional manager in the Northeast. Together, we build curricula, software, and professional development for teachers across the country. Bootstrap builds on the pioneering work of Program By Design by Matthias Felleisen and his collaborators.
We would like to thank the following, for their volunteer and financial support over the years: Apple, Cisco, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), Facebook, Google, as well as the Google Inc. Charitable Giving Fund of Tides Foundation, IBM, Jane Street Capital, LinkedIn, Microsoft, The National Science Foundation, NVIDIA, Thomson/Reuters, TripAdvisor and the generous individuals who have given us private donations.
If you would like to support Bootstrap with a donation, send a check made out to Brown University to our PI, Shriram Krishnamurthi,
at his mailing address. Be sure to include this letter, indicating that you wish for the funds to be put towards Bootstrap. Once your check is received, we'll send you a receipt for your tax records.