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Personally I think that C++ is an important computer science language. OK I don't really want to use it when I program for fun but if the choice is Assembly language and C++ (and sometimes it does come to that) give me C++ any day. Plus of course there are some important computer science concepts (think memory management) that you really can't teach with languages like Java, C# and Visual Basic that all want to manage memory for you. That is just a sample of course. You can probably think of others. So I clearly think that C++ should be a language that anyone seriously interested in computer science should learn. But where to start?
Answer: The C++ group has made a number of short videos available that show you how to use C++ with Visual Studio Express. There are also some webcasts which you can sign up to view.
Here are the descriptions of the videos:
Using Visual C++ Express Edition and the Platform SDK (6 Minutes - 8.5 MB)
This video will take you through the steps for downloading and installing the Platform SDK. It will also walk you through the changes you’ll need to make within VC++ Express to fully integrate the PSDK with VC++ Express edition. After following these steps, you will be able to build Win32 applications using VC++ Express.
Editing and Compiling Existing C++ files in VC++ Express (8 Minutes - 6.6 MB)
This video will take you through the steps for importing your existing C++ files into VC++ Express using the Project From Existing Code wizard. It will cover all steps from naming your project to importing files of different types to adding support for ATL, MFC or CLR. After following these steps, your C++ file will be fully imported into VC++ Express. This video does not cover debugging or updating syntax.
Building Windows Forms Applications with Wizards in Visual C++ Express (12 Minutes - 8.2 MB)
This video will take you through the steps for creating a new Windows Form application using the wizards available in VC++ Express. The steps include naming the project, choosing the appropriate settings, adding controls, adding event handling code, and building and running the application that was created. After following these steps, you should have familiarity with how to add additional controls and event handling code to create a more robust Windows Form application.
Create a Console Application from an Empty Project in Visual C++ Express (4 Minutes - 3.4 MB)
This video will take you through the steps for creating a C++ console application from an empty project. When an empty project is created there is no auto-generated code or support files (e.g. header files) added to the project. From this base level you will be shown how to create a new C++ file into your project, add basic code and build and run a console application.
One of the things I hear from computer science teachers from time to time is that games turn girls off and so you can't use them for projects. What I have been hearing from people with ties to the computer caming industry though is that girls, or at least women, do play computer games and that they play them in large numbers. Today I ran into a blog post by Dr. Jill Walker that quotes some actual research on the subject.
The short answer is that more women then men over age 23 play computer games. I'm not sure why the numbers for younger girls are not higher though I suspect it is because younger girls have more oppertunities to socialize away from games than women do. If you look at the games that women play what you see are what is called casual games. Think card games, thinking or puzzle games like Mastermind, spelling games and other games that involve more in the way to thinking than good eye-hand coordination. There seem to be a lot of women playing online games like World of Warcraft that involve interactions (other than killing) with other players. That is something to think about.
My experience is that girls did enjoy writing and playing computer games. Its all a matter of thinking about the right games and avoiding the first person shooter.
BTW there is a book of projects for Visual Basic .NET (with a number of casual games included) at MainFunction.com. This link should get you right there. (You may have to create and account or sign in with one to access it. You wouldn't want students to get to the coded solutions too easily.
I see that FIRST (the people behind the FIRST Robotics and FIRST Lego League) are running Summer Science Day Camps this summer. Most of the camps involve robotics as a tool to introduce concepts in science, technology, engineering and math. Girls FIRST: It's My Business! for girls ages 12-15 is more about running a business and looks like a CEO training camp. They have programs for kids as young as 6-8 but most are for young teens.
Details about FIRST Discovery Camps and their online camp registration system are available at http://www.usfirst.org/place/progrm.htm .