Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

March, 2007

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Beginner Developer Learning Center


    The Visual Studio Express people have just announced a new Beginner Developer Learning Center. The main part of the site is for beginners of all ages who are interested in learning how to program computers or design and build dynamic web sites. It looks pretty interesting and I think a lot of people will benefit from it.

    This site has 45 lessons and 31 short How-To videos that are organized into 2 learning paths: the Windows Development track, and the Web Development track. Learners can start at the level they feel comfortable at and progress through three separate levels of instruction.

    For myself though I am most excited about the Kid's Corner which includes learning and teaching resources for younger learners. Passion for the subject one teaches  is something I have written about before but resources are important as well. If you are a teacher or a parent (of course parents are a child's first and most important teachers) who has a passion for teaching your children how to program but lack the resources this is the site for you.

    The Kid's Corner features:

    • C# for Sharp Kids - An ebook on programming with C#
    • VB For Very Bright Kids - An ebook for learning how to programming with Visual Basic
    • Code Rules - A curriculum for learning how to program using Visual Basic. This package includes Teacher materials, Student lessons and quizzes and has been used in schools around the country.
    • CurliQue Studios - A curriculum for learning to build a dynamic web site for a rock band. This one also includes teacher materials. My friend Dave Jacobus blogs about using it with his class and seems to like it.
    • Creating your First Website using HTML - Follow along with this Microsoft DigiGirlz Tech Camp presentation to learn how to use HTML to create your own website!
    • A list of other kid friendly websites and learning resources.

    I get a lot of questions from parents and teachers looking for resources to help teach younger students how to program computers. I'm really happy to see this new resource open up. I think a lot of people will find it very useful.

    There are a lot of people at Microsoft who really love to program and who really want to share that passion with young people. That is why this project has a lot of high level of support at Microsoft. It was first announced by the Senior VP in charge of the developer division. I expect it to continue to develop in positive ways. You may want to bookmark it and visit regularly.


  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Halo 2 On a Planetarium Dome


    New Hampshire Technical Institute (a community college that is part of New Hampshire's community technical college system) has an amazing Animation and Graphic Game Programming course of studies. Among other things they have a lab with a number of Xbox 360s that are used to develop and test games created with XNA Game Studio Express. And of course as you would expect from a program like that they know how to have a good time.

    In this video they test running Xbox 360 games on the dome of the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium which is on their campus. Picture this - the dome in 40 feet across, players sit in reclining seats to watch the overhead,  12 players at once each with their part of the screen being about 10 feet by 10 feet. Surround sound. Does it get any better than this?

    During the video it looks like all Halo but I am told they played some student created games as well. I hear they are planning an event like this that will be open to high school students who are considering studying game development. I think I want to drop in on that myself.


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  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Upcoming Visit to Stevens (NJ) High School CS Conference



    Later in March I am heading down to the Stevens Institute of Tecnology in New Jersey to give a keynote talk at their first (hopefully) annual workshop on Computer Science in High School. Growing up across the river in New York I heard a lot of great things about Stevens over the years but this is actually my first fisit there. There are some great people doing a lot of interesting things there so I am looking forward to this trip. If you are a high school teacher in New Jersey or otherwise close to Stevens I hope you'll come. More information cribbed from the web site is below.

    The Department of Computer Science at Stevens Institute of Technology will be hosting the first Stevens Workshop on Computer Science in High School, on Friday March 23, 2007. The intended audience for the workshop is educators and students interested in:

    • Computer Science
    • Software Development
    • Information Systems
    • Security and Privacy
    • Web Programming
    • Computer Applications

    Students and teachers of computer science in high school are welcome.

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