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Afterschool Curriculum Choice: Technology Resources

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Curriculum Details for
PicoCrickets

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Resource Description
Staff, Planning,
and Costs
Standards, Research, and Evaluation

Standards Alignment

  • Technology:
    This resource addresses multiple standards identified in the National Educational Technology Standards for Students, which were developed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). For more information about these standards, see
    http://www.iste.org/standards.
The developers note that, through PicoCricket activities, participants learn about concepts that consistently appear in compilations of science, math, technology, and engineering standards (e.g., the American Association of Science, 1993; Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, 1999; and International Technology Education Association, 2000). These include: general problem-solving strategies; the process of design and invention; engineering concepts related to sensing, control, and feedback; key computer science concepts; and collaboration and presentation skills.

Research Base

The foundation for PicoCricket materials and activities comes from the work of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, which conducts research on educational technology and creative learning environments.

Grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) have supported the development of the PicoCrickets kit and educational activities. From 1997-1999, the NSF grant entitled Beyond Black Boxes: Bringing Transparency and Aesthetics Back to Scientific Instruments (CDA-9616444) supported early-stage development of the Cricket technology and educational activities. Subsequently, the developers explored the use of Crickets in informal learning environments as part of a three-year NSF grant (2001–2004) entitled The PIE Network: Promoting Science Inquiry and Engineering through Playful Invention and Exploration with New Digital Technologies (ESI-0087813).

Youth who participated in the project on scientific instruments and investigations not only became more motivated in science activities, but also developed a more sophisticated knowledge of scientific concepts and deepened their understanding of the connection between science and technology.

A recent paper, "New Pathways into Robotics: Strategies for Broadening Participation," documents the theoretical basis for PicoCrickets, and presents examples of how they have been used in informal settings. http://web.media.mit.edu/~mres/papers/NewPathwaysRoboticsLLK.pdf

Evaluation Details

PicoCricket activities were developed in collaboration with the Playful Invention and Exploration (PIE) Network of museums, with support from the National Science Foundation. They were tested at Computer Clubhouse afterschool centers, with support from the Intel Foundation.


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