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

January, 2010

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Computer Engineer Barbie?


    Those wonderful people who bring you Barbie (remember the version that said “Math is hard?”) are collecting votes for Barbie's next career. There are five options up for the vote: Environmentalist, Surgeon, Architect, News Anchor, and Computer Engineer. My first reaction was “Great!” We can get little girls to think about becoming computer engineers at an early age. My second reaction was “how do the Barbie think a female computer engineer looks?” OK now there are some very attractive computer engineers out there. Did you see the picture of Google’s Marissa Mayer in Glamour Magazine? She is a serious technical professional and better looking than Barbie. But she is not what most people think of when they think of a woman computer engineer. So what will Computer Engineer Barbie look like?

    My first reaction is – glasses, pocket protector, jeans, t-shirt. The pocket protector idea really worries me. Or will it be some sort of business semi-casual? Copy Marissa’s outfit from Glamour? Come on she doesn’t dress like that on a regular basis. Though I did she that she Twittered that she does usually wear heels. That’s good because from what I can tell Barbie doesn’t do flats. What do you think they will do for Computer Engineer Barbie’s wardrobe? What should they do?

    No doubt they will outfit her with gadgets. I wonder if various smart phone makers will vie to have a miniature version of their phone for Barbie to carry? A netbook? For sure. MP3 player? Probably. An ebook reader? Maybe.  I hope they set up her office with a triple screen LCD setup at least. And the printer should be cool looking. I wonder if they will have a miniature wi-fi access point? Maybe I’m getting silly now. Will she have a new printer? Hey, maybe she can have a miniature Microsoft Surface device. OK maybe not. What accessories does Computer Engineer Barbie need?

    We need some opinions here from real women who are really computer engineers. What would a computer engineer Barbie look like that makes the field look real and good to little girls? Let’s not leave this work to the toy company or we could see the growth in women in the field set back years!

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links 11 January 2010


    I’m headed to Tuesday night. I’m looking forward to helping with some Expression Web workshops and spending time at the Microsoft booth. I’m also hoping to meet a lot of people face to face. One of the events I am looking to go to is the Tweetup that @jswiatek is organizing. If you’d like information on the FETC TweetUp at go here. I hope to see some of my readers there.

    I know a lot of people don’t see much value in Twitter. Doug Peterson (aka @dougpete) wrote a blog post titled Twitter in Action that gives two really good and reproducible examples of teachers using Tweeter to bring the world to their students. There is a lot of online collaboration going on between teachers online. Are you part of it?

    I finally got around to watching the video of Scott McLeod's talk to the NEA leadership recently.  If you haven't watched it yet you really should. It is all about the effects of destructive innovation on education.

    Are you looking for information about careers and estimates of their future career possibilities? Perhaps have students interested in information for planning for their future? The US government has a site about exploring career information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    This week @weemooseus beat me to twittering about the call for  proposals for the Computer Science and Information Technology Symposium being open. This is a great conference and presenting there is as valuable an experience as attending the presentations. I urge you to think about sharing something you have found valuable with other Computer Science teachers.

    Not a long list this week I am afraid. I think a lot of people are still getting into the swing of things after the holiday break. I know I am. Have any interesting links or resources to share? Please leave a comment, send me a tweet at @AlfredTwo or email to AlfredTh (at) Thanks!

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  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Starter Resources for Robotics Learning


    iRobot is probably the best known robotics company in the US. Their Roomba vacuuming robots and other household robots are widely used all over the place including my house. Their military robots are saving lives on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. Recently they opened a new web site with resources for those who want to learn more about robots. The site is called SPARK – Starter Programs for the Advancement of Robotics Knowledge.

    For parents and educators there are educational resources for robotics.

    iRobot is committed to supporting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education in schools. By using robots, students have fun, teachers get to teach in new ways, and parents get to learn new things along with their children. This is where educators and parents can find robot-related resources to help build STEM curricula and to foster an appreciation for STEM education.

    For kids there is a bunch of “cool stuff.”

    SPARK has a lot of cool stuff for kids who are interested in robots! Check out our robot photos, games, activities, and more. Play with robots, inspire other kids, and change the world!

    The site is pretty much platform independent. While as you’d expect there are resources that use the iRobot Create robot. There are also links to lots of other resources and platforms as well. Looks like a great place to start if you are interested in robotics. Oh and they are now on Twitter @irobotspark

    BTW one of the resources they list is Microsoft Robotics.You may want to check that one out as well.

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