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

April, 2008

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Digital Dorm Room Tour


    My friend Edwin is on the road running the northeast leg of the Digital Dorm Room tour. Today he is actually at Brooklyn College which is near and dear to my heart because my wife went there and because it is only blocks away from where I grew up.

    The Digital Dorm Room is actually a model of a cool technology enabled dorm room built into a truck. Why they let Edwin drive the truck around the country is beyond me. Maybe it's because I am old but somehow riding around in anything driven by Edwin has been something of a thrill ride for me. He is, let's say, an enthusiastic driver. Edwin talks about the idea behind the DDR (not to be confused with Dance Dance Revolution) on his blog here. There are some cool "toys" installed and he has prizes to give away.

    The official web page with a map of where Edwin is going may be found here. Check it out as there are cool technology trailers and information about some of the software products Edwin will also be demonstrating. For a full schedule so you can find out if and when the DDR is coming to a school near you visit this page.

    Edwin is a great guy and I'm not really worried about his driving. Don't read anything in to the fact that I am not tagging along. (wink wink)

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing


    NCWIT (National Center for Women & Information Technology) is running an award program for high school women in the greater metropolitan areas of Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, and New York City

    Sponsored by Bank of America, the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing recognizes young women at the high-school level for their computing-related achievements and interests. By generating visibility for these young women in their local communities, the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing encourages their continued interest in computing, attracts the attention and support of educational and corporate institutions, and emphasizes at a personal level the importance of women's participation.

    Each qualified awardee will receive:

    • $500 in cash.
    • A laptop computer, provided by Bank of America.
    • An expenses-paid trip, provided by Bank of America, for each awardee and a parent/legal guardian, to attend the Bank of America Celebrating Stars of the Future Technology Showcase and Awards Ceremony, August 1-3, 2008, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
    • An engraved award for both the student and the student's school.
    • Inclusion in a video that highlights her accomplishments in computing, her future aspirations, and her participation in the Award events in Charlotte, North Carolina, as well as a copy of the final Award video.
    • For awardees who will be high school seniors in the Fall of 2008, an expenses-paid trip for the awardee and an accompanying parent/legal guardian to attend NCWIT's national workshop on Women and IT at the University of California at Irvine, November 5-6, 2008.

    Lots more information available at the NCWIT site here. If you know a young woman in the targeted areas let them know right now so they can get involved. Online self-nominations must be submitted by April 23, 2008 April 30, 2008. Supporting documentation must be received by April 25, 2008 May 2, 2008; if you mail these documents, we suggest mailing no later than April 18 23, 2008.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    RoboChamps – Online, Virtual Robot Competition


    Most robotic competitions are fairly expensive to enter. The hardware is expensive, hard to assemble and tends to break at the worst possible times. They are lots of fun for hardware geeks but not as much fun for software geeks. RoboChamps is different – RoboChamps is mostly about the software!

    The idea is that there are different challenges modeled in a simulator. Participants have simulated robots to program to solve the challenge. The prizes (there have to be prizes) include actual physical robots. From the RoboChamps home page:

    RoboChamps consist of a series of challenges. Each challenge comes with a 3-D simulation environment, a robot, a challenge scenario, and the rules for completing the scenario. From there, it’s up to your creativity and coding skills. Using .NET, code your robot to complete the challenge successfully, and submit an entry to the RoboChamps League. A referee service will be running to make sure the rules are being followed, determine your score and send it back to

    Max interviews one of the people behind RoboChamps on Channel 8. It sounds like a lot of fun. One of the things they demo is how one will be able to watch robot runs in the simulator and see things from different angles and locations.

    The official rules limit competitors to people 18 and over so it might be something interesting for HS seniors to try as they finish up the school year. But I think it would be interesting for others to try as a place to show of their skills. The software is all free anyway!

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