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

June, 2010

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    A Show About Computer Programming


    One of the things that comes up in conversation when ever getting more students, especially women, interested in computer science comes up is that we need a TV show that would show the field in a good light. People mention how CSI has gotten students interested in forensics for example. The closest thing we have in computer science is NUMB3RS and the star there is really a mathematician. I’ve been giving a TV show about computer scientists or programmers or related some thought lately on some longish drives. I see a couple of possibilities.

    One is a reality show. Think The Apprentice or Top Chef and the like. What would it look like? I see two teams of hotshot programmers who are assigned a coding project each “week.” Perhaps a casual game. Or a phone application for a specific business problem. Or maybe a scientific data analysis project. Something that a small team can do in a reasonable time. Not easy because it has to be non trivial but yet still handle able. Each team would work with a customer and at the end of  the projects they would be evaluated for things like ease of use, meeting the customer’s needs, reliability, etc. The losing team would have to pick two people who would be evaluated with one of them being dropped. Teams would vote people off based on poor coding practices, lack of teamwork or communication, and other issues.

    What would you show? Brainstorming and designing sessions, pairs working at computers (team programming seems like it would work in this environment), progress meetings, user interface mock-ups , customer discussions, demos and the like. We need a mix of people – men, women, personalities, races, etc. It has to show all sorts of people.

    Another is a scripted show. Comedy is fine but let’s not have too many characters like those on the “Big Bang Theory” please! And of course the women should be smart and no one should be ugly. Well maybe one guy but most shows use good looking people and there sure are a lot of them in the computer industry. No really! Drama would also be cool. Tight deadlines, customers changing specifications, differing development philosophies, are all fair game. But can we show people having real lives as well? I know people who ski, snowboard, do wood work (even some serious carpenters), musicians (lots of those) and other people who engage in all sorts of activities that are not associated with geeks and nerds.

    What other ideas do you have? Who would you see cast in these sorts of show? Would they make a difference in attracting young people to the field?

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Teaching Real Projects Workshop


    I’ll be helping out with some of this workshop at Stevens Institute of Technology in July. Free including accommodations. Plus some stipends.

    Teaching Real Projects for Real Clients Courses (RPRCCs):

    A Workshop for Computer Science, Information Technology, and Business Middle and High School Teachers (An ACM-W Project)

    Goal: To attract more students, especially young women, and minorities, to computing courses, and eventually into college-level computing majors and the computing workforce

    How: By interesting workshop attendees to, and training them to, teach initial phase (pre-programming) RPRCCs with socially-relevant agencies as clients; and providing hands-on help to those teach their first RPRCCs. (Whether you decide, or not, to teach an RPRCC, or to add RPRCC aspects to another course, you will learn a great deal about what software development is other than just programming.)

    Where: Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ, on the Hudson River, across from Manhattan
    When: July 19-23, 2010
    Accommodations: Free dorm rooms for all attendees
    Travel: Stipends for a number of middle and high school teachers from outside the area
    Meals: Free breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all attendees
    interested in attending: contact Prof. David Klappholz: or
    For more background on the RPRCC initiative:

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links 14 June 2010


    Is school done for the year where you are? Here in the northeast of the US there is another week or two to go. Teachers are finishing up the year, getting their grades done, graduation events are everywhere and I think many teachers are looking to take some time off before even thinking about next school year. Others though are planning their attendance at ISTE (Microsoft and me at ISTE), getting ready for summer workshops or otherwise thinking about how they will prepare for next year.

      On the O’Reilly forms is this interesting discussion on teaching programming to kids The usual suspects (Kodu, Alice, Small Basic, Scratch) all come up.

        Speaking of Small Basic - Small Basic 0.9 is out .Now supporting 15 different natural languages! Wow!

        Here is a video that tells how to make your own movie with Windows Movie Maker by Joey deVilla and Junior. Kids will get a kick out of it. Maybe some summer project ideas for your own kids?

        From Alex Courosa (@courosa) This link to a game for color nerds. The site shows the Hex code for a color and several color samples. Your job is to identify the color with its Hex code. Not so easy unless you are a real color nerd. Web developers will want to test themselves though.

        From Sam Stokes (@SocalSam) a blog post on Silverlight games on Win Phone: Rotate that triangle,

            Nice video demo of designing ideas with PowerPoint including photo editing and animation. Seriously the animation at the end is worth the trip!

                  Who says today’s youth can’t change the world? Vote for world’s best student project.

                    The IC2010 Windows Phone 7 Rock star award results are out! Gotta love it when a high school team beats out a bunch of college teams :-)

                      From @TechFTW: Check out what it’s like to be an intern at Microsoft with the My Life @ Microsoft video series

                        I love the blog post called Deeper Conversations by Doug Peterson (@dougpete) on how blog comments can lead to useful professional development. The comments are often the best and most useful part of any blog post. I know that people add a lot of value to my posts when they comment. If you have something to say, please say it! The conversation is what it is all about.

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