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

January, 2010

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Intel Schools of Distinction 2010


    An announcement arrived in my inbox about applications being open for this year’s Intel Schools of Distinction awards. Microsoft is one of the sponsors BTW. This is a good opportunity to get cash and products for your school to support innovative work that you are doing. Also if you complete you submission in January you will have the chance to win a Netbook.

    Does your school demonstrate 21st century teaching and learning environments that promote excellence in math and science?   Enter the 2010 Intel Schools of Distinction Awards and your school could win up to $25,000.  18 finalists will win $5,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C. Six winners selected from the eighteen finalists will receive an additional $5,000 from the Intel Foundation and more than $100,000 in products and services from the program award sponsors.

    Application deadline is Feb. 17, 2010 - submit your completed application early and you may win a Netbook. Early bird drawings held every week in January.

    This awards program is open to K-12 public, private, charter, parochial schools in the United States, Department of Defense Dependents Schools, and Bureau of Indian Affairs schools. Home schools are not eligible.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    High School Students Competing Against University Students


    I’ve been saying for some time that the overlap between high end high school students and low end university students is greater than many people realize. When the Imagine Cup kicked off back in September I suggested that high school students (16 and older) might want to take a look at competing especially in the game competition. Sure the competition is tough but what is difficult is often the best way to push ones self further. XNA is a great platform and can be very approachable for high school students. Well it looks from this announcement of fall results from the US Imagine Cup (you can find the full list of finalists at the official US IC press announcement) that at least one high school took me up on my challenge. Anthony Salcito, Microsoft's VP for worldwide education, blogs about this announcement at Students rise to the challenge at the Imagine Cup BTW

    To win a trip to the U.S. finals, teams are selected as finalists in fall and spring competitions. Yesterday, Microsoft announced the finalists for the fall competition, who will vie for the nation’s Imagine Cup title. Student teams that competed in the fall competition but did not make it to the finals are encouraged to work on their projects and enter them in the spring competition. Contests are conducted in several categories including Software Design, Game Design and Web Design.

    The fall finalists include Red Team, Springbrook High School, Maryland. Project: An educational game devoted to physics puzzles.

    Students in the U.S. can register and learn more about the event at Students who sign up before the deadline of Feb. 1 may enter for a chance to win the “$10,000 (U.S.) Cash for Students” sweepstakes.

    More information about the Imagine Cup and registration details for students outside the U.S. are available at More information on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals can be found at Up-to-date developments on the finals competition will be available at the official Imagine Cup Blog.

    This is not the first time Springbrook High School has come to my attention BTW. They’ve been trying XNA for a while now. I mentioned them in my blog a year and a half ago (Bootstrapping XNA into High School Computer Science) because they had a video of one of there project games on the school web site. Well there are many more XNA curriculum materials available now. And as is noted above there is still time to sign up for and enter the spring competition. Can your high school keep up with Springbrook HS?

    How about one of the other competitions? Software design or web development maybe? The full list of US Imagine Cup competitions is here. Not in the US? No problem. The International Imagine Cup web site is here.


  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links January 4th 2010


    Happy New Year everyone. Are you back to school or work yet? I took two weeks off and really enjoyed myself. I didn’t spend much time on the Internet as usual so I’m behind on Twitter and blogs and pretty much everything. I had written some posts to appear while I was on vacation so you may have seen them. If not, I actually think some of them are pretty good so please take a look at them. I am sort of proud on the two posts on Monte Carlo Simulations - Roulette and Slot Machines – seriously I think they describe some projects that students will find interesting and you will find educational. Also a post on sample code called Keeping It Simple may be interesting. I’ve been thinking even more about sample code and code reading lately so there may be more coming on that topic.

    I was sent a link to an interesting cartoon that shows an instructor showing some serious mathematics and a student saying something like “but all I want to do is learn how to program video games.” All too many students don’t realize that there is a lot of math and physics involved in creating serious games. Some theory is really quite necessary.

    So did the kids at your house get an Xbox 360 for Christmas? From @Safer_Online: “Getting the kids a game console this Christmas? Some tips on setting up their Xbox console” A lot of people are unaware that the Xbox, and many other games, have setting you can set.

    From @weemooseus who you really want to think about following if you are using Twitter a number of good links recently:

    A reminder for teachers in Illinois and Texas - have you seen the Bliink web design contest at In Texas this is being done in conjunction with NASA. 

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