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

May, 2008

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    K-12 Computer Science Research Project


    Note: I first published this back in July when most teachers were on vacation and I think didn't see this. I do believe this is a valuable research project and since they are still looking for some more responses I agreed to bring it up again. If you are a person who teaches computer science in K-12 and haven't participated yet please do. If you know other teachers who might be willing to participate then please pass this along. If you are an AP CS teacher do it to take your mind off your students who are taking the exam. :-)

    Thanks, Alfred

    One of the problems the whole field of computer science education faces is a lack of good data. Data on a lot of various subjects. Lack of data makes it hard to understand what is going on and how computer science is taught. And in fact there is a lack of information about why students should study computer science.

    There is a survey of software development tools and programming languages that are being used it actually teach computer science in K-12 being done. This project is being run out of Drexel University and has the support of the Computer Science Teachers Association.

    We would like your help with a survey on the subject of K-12 teachers or administrators who use software development tools/programming languages. We wish to gain a better understanding of activities, challenges, and needs in this area. We seek your assistance because your teaching background and experience in software development/programming will provide us with invaluable information about this topic. To access the survey, visit Participation is anonymous and voluntary and should take about 20 minutes of your time. If you have any questions about the survey, e-mail your questions to

    If you are teaching using software development tools and programming languages in K-12 please participate in this survey.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Popfly Game Creator


    It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Popfly – especially lately as I’ve been writing a lot about it. But late last week the Popfly team added something really new – Popfly Game Creator.

    John Montgomery who runs the group responsible for Popfly does a much better job of explaining what this is about (complete with screen shots) on his blog. But for starters it is a simple online tool for creating games with a minimum of code. Lots of easy to use graphics and pre-defined actions. For getting the basics of creating games this looks like just the thing.

    Adam Nathan who is a member of the team that created Popfly Game Creator writes about the tool on his blog. There he talks about what went into developing the tool and also links to two different videos about how to use the product. So if you want to see how a game is created or a montage of the sample games (which require very little code) then his blog is the place to start.

    John Montgomery also answers the question “Why did we create a game creator?" on his blog. The short answer – turning consumers into producers. And isn’t that a real goal in education as well?

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Watching Students Grow Up


    I have to say that I feel very fortunate that so many of my former students still keep in touch. A lot of them have “friended” me in Facebook. Others regularly instant message or email me. Now 5 years (as of June 2nd actually) since I started working for Microsoft and left the full-time classroom a lot of my high school students have graduated college and moved into professional careers. They all seemed to have done well. Though honestly they have not all taken traditional paths.

    One of them is a blacksmith now. Not exactly a high tech career but he seems happy and that is what really matters. One is teaching in Japan – not something I would have expected. A couple have not completed a college degree but have taken their talents, knowledge and skills more directly into industry. Others have gone on to graduate school or finished their undergraduate degree in more than 4 (or 5) years. I can’t say that I am any more or less proud of any of them regardless of their paths. As long as they are happy and have chosen the paths they followed its all good.

    I heard from one of my students today. He is traveling to Redmond WA where he will start an internship at Microsoft this week. That’s pretty cool. He’s a smart guy and I have little doubt that he will do well. From what I have heard from him over that last several years he has learned quite a bit in college. I expect he’ll learn a lot this summer as well though.

    The personal growth is the most exciting thing to watch. Seeing these bright young people grow into successful independent adults is pretty darn cool. That is why I really appreciate the students who keep in touch.

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