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

February, 2008

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    British Library - Turning Pages On Old Books


    I saw a great demo the other  day. The application involved is for the British Library. The British Library has a huge collection with some amazing old books in their "treasure room." These books are too old, too valuable and to fragile to let just anyone handle them. And yet there are also among the most interesting books for researchers and even for regular people. We're talking about books like Leonardo Da Vinci's notebooks and manuscripts by Shakespeare for example. The Turning the  Pages collection has taken some of those books and photographed them and put them into an application that allows the reader to turn the pages online. It's really a cool use of technology.

    There are actually two versions of this application. The older version uses some older time consuming technology both to create and to display the online versions of the books. It's still pretty cool though and you can find it here.

    The latest version requires Microsoft Silverlight plugin Windows Vista or Windows XP (with the free .Net 3.0 download) but allows you to rotate the books and look at them from more angles as it wore. That version called Turning the Pages 2.0 can be found here.

    What I like about this application is that it uses technology to make it possible for more people to get the kind of close access to objects that are generally available only to highly trained specialists. In doing so it brings the art of these old books to more people. I also that it suggests more potential applications that may very well make education more interesting. It's yet another way that computers and software make the hard to access more accessible for more people.

    Note that I recieved a correction in the comments and also a link to aSilverlight page turning application (created by adapting a sample on on

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Build, Craft, Hack, Play, Make!


    It looks like Maker Faire is starting to ramp up for this coming May. I'm trying to see if I can justify a trip out to California for it this year. Last year a couple of my friends worked the event showing off some really cool stuff and had a great time. Maker Faire is sort of s geek version of a county fair. It is a cross between a big county fair and a science fair with an emphasis on making things that are fun and interesting as much if not more than practical.

    There is a "call for makers" out now. You can find out how you can show your own interesting projects there. I borrowed some information from the call for makers page and put them below but you should go here if you are interested in taking part.

    Maker Faire Bay Area Entries: Deadline March 12, 2008
    Key Points:
    • Entries Due: March 12, 2008. Space is limited, please submit your entry early!

    • Maker Faire Tryouts (See below): February 17, 2008, The Exploratorium, noon – 4pm.

    • Notification of Acceptance: Entries submitted by March 12 will be notified by March 19.

    • Maker Bay Area: May 3-4, 2008
      Hours: Saturday 10-6 pm; Sunday 10-5pm.

    The Bay Area Maker Faire for 2008 will be May 3-4, 2008 in San Mateo, CA.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Expression Web Project For Students


    [Updated with new project page link.] 

    When I was a student a lot of projects we used to do were poster projects. From what I see in my wife's classroom poster projects are still very common. They are a fun way for students to organize and present the results of their research efforts. They are more hands on and they allow students to use their creativity.

    But you know this is a web 2.0 world. The posters of the 21st century are web pages. They are interactive, multi-page and even multi-media. Of course not everyone is up to creating these poster 2.0 projects without a little help. And of course without the right tools.

    Expression Web is a new software product for developing web pages. It's designed to make things easier to do. To several of us it seems as though combining a web development tool and the idea of a poster project was a natural development. So an Expression Web tutorial and a curriculum unit was created and field tested with 10 U.S. schools:  7 high schools (14-18 year old students) and 3 middle schools (11-14 year old students.)  The tutorial was created by Pat Phillips (a nationally recognized computer science educator,) as a stand-alone curriculum designed for non-technical beginners.  This project can be used in pretty much any subject/course that has room for another project with a teacher who wants to add a web project or perhaps to get students interested in learning more about computer science.

    The idea is that a web page (actually several connected pages) are created to display and support the information from a small research project. This curriculum unit is available for free at the Faculty Connection web site. For more information visit the Expression Web for High School page.

    This is the project that was announced at TCEA last week BTW.

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