Previous Special Projects Award Winners

Since 2003 SIGCSE has awarded a limited number of Special Projects Grants each year. These grants help SIGCSE members investigate and introduce new ideas in the learning and teaching of computing. Projects must provide some clear benefit to the wider disciplinary community in the form of new knowledge, developing or sharing of a resource, or good practice in learning, teaching, or assessment.

Here is a list of previous awards:

Computing Educators Oral History Project (CEOHP) Growth: Awardee Interviews and Website Update
Vicki Almstrum,
Barbara Boucher Owens,
Award: $5,000
Award date: May, 2017

Drs. Almstrum and Owens plan to extend the collection of oral interviews documenting the history of computing educators. This project will increase the number of interviews with winners of the SIGCSE Outstanding Contribution to Computer Science Education Award and the SIGCSE Lifetime Service Award, with an emphasis on those who live in countries other than the United States. In addition, the project will entail a significant reworking of the CEOHP website which serves as a repository for the oral interviews.

Understanding Movement
Amber Wagner
Birmingham-Southern College
Award: $1,060
Award date: May, 2017

Dr. Wagner will develop a project-based course for novice computer science students intended to demonstrate the relevance of computing. Inspired by ESPN’s Sport Science, students will combine physiology with computer science to build wearable devices to measure the force or speed of various movements. Assignments will be designed to use the Arduino 101 to collect and analyze movement data. For the final project, students will first determine the types of movements they wish to measure, and then they will build their wearables. With the help of an athletic trainer, they will assemble an analysis of the data to summarize the force and/or speed of the movements. A detailed curriculum guide will be published for use by other educators.

Active Learning Materials for Computer Architecture and Organization
Brandon Myers
University of Iowa
Award: $5,000
Award date: May, 2017

Dr. Myers will develop eight Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) activities for use in Computer Organization and Architecture classes. Exercises will be based on the learning outcomes defined in the 2013 ACM/IEEE Computer Science Curriculum Guidelines. POGIL is based on a theory of instruction which includes the learning cycle of exploration, term introduction, and application. The activities will be available to other instructors via

Inclusive Apps: Supporting Mobile Accessibility Standards through Educational Exercises
Yasmine N. El-Glaly,
Daniel E. Krutz,
Rochester Institute of Technology
Award: $3,800
Award date: December, 2016

Drs. El-Glaly and Krutz will create a publicly accessible oracle of mobile applications which will define problems relating to the accessibility of mobile applications for individuals with disabilities. The oracle will contain a library of well-defined accessibility problems, provide details about the accessibility issues, and demonstrate the difficulties experienced by users with different needs or who are differently abled. The oracle will outline steps to modify each application to make it accessible to users affected by the accessibility issue. The oracle will be available for use at other educational institutions to support software development and accessibility related courses.

What Exactly Are We Expecting Our Novice Programming Students to Achieve?
Brett A. Becker
University College Dublin
Award: $4,700
Award date: December, 2016

Dr. Brett Becker will collect, categorize and analyze the learning outcome statements of CS1 courses across a large, diverse set of institutions, providing an answer to the question: What exactly are we expecting our novice programming students to achieve? This will allow the CS education community to decide if, as recent evidence has suggested, we have unrealistic expectations of our CS1 students. The outputs of this research will provide a starting point for the CS education community to adjust its expectations of novice programmers, resulting in improvements in failure rates, retention, diversity and equity in CS education. Upon completion of the project an online repository of CS1 learning outcomes will be available to, and updatable by, the CS education community.

Making Block Languages Accessible
Richard E. Ladner
University of Washington
Award: $4,064
Award date: May, 2016

Block languages such as Scratch, Snap!, Alice, Blockly, App Inventor, ScratchJr, and others, have opened up programming and problem solving to millions of children worldwide. This project will make block languages accessible to blind children so they can have the same opportunities as their sighted peers. Most blind children in the US are already familiar with smartphones and tablets including the gestures used to navigate and spatially understand what is on a touchscreen. This project will extend the open source Blockly language by building on touchscreen phone applications.

The Dawn of Computing: Charles Babbage and the Difference Engine
Mark M. Meysenburg
Doane University
Award: $3,000
Award date: May, 2016

Dr. Meysenburg will create a Reacting to the Past role-playing game, "The Dawn of Computing: Charles Babbage and the Difference Engine," regarding British polymath Charles Babbage and his quest to build his difference engine. The game can be used in general-audience first-year seminar courses, to encourage students to study computing. Reacting to the Past games revolve around debate, with groups of students divided into factions aligned to different sides of the issue at hand. The central issue at stake in “The Dawn of Computing: Charles Babbage and the Difference Engine” will be whether or not Babbage should be awarded funds from the British government for the development of the difference engine, first in 1823 and then in an ongoing manner. The outcome will be in the hands of the students.

A Tutoring System for Red Black Trees
Chun Wai Liew
Lafayette College
Award: $4,387
Award date: May, 2016

A web based tutoring system will be developed to help students learn top-down insertion and deletion algorithms in balanced trees, specifically in red-black trees. The tutoring system will help students recognize the preconditions for single and double rotation transformations. The system will allow instructors to provide problems and will automatically generate solution paths.

To see more awards use the links below: