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

October, 2010

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Welcoming Andrew Parsons to the US Academic Team


    The latest person to join the US Academic Developer Evangelist team is Andrew Parsons. Andrew is moving from the other side of the world (Australia) to work with colleges and universities around the New York City area. He’s been doing that sort of thin Down Under for several years and we’re all pretty excited to have him join the US team.

    clip_image001Andrew (that’s his avatar on the left) talks about the move on his blog at - NYC, here I come!

    He also talks about his first big New York City event - NYC Imagine Cup Kick off - Inspiring students to change the world for the better - If you are a college/university student in the NYC area I hope you’ll sign up for Andrew’s event, learn about the Imagine Cup, and welcome him to the States. BTW Andrew is and has been one of the “captains” of the Imagine Cup Game competition so knows a ton about XNA and game development. And of course about the Imagine Cup!

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links 25 October 2010


    Busy week last week but than most weeks are. Also a long week since I was working a booth at the New Hampshire Tech Fest on Saturday. That was a good day though. (Read about Microsoft at NH Tech Fest here). I had a great time demoing software for a lot of kids from elementary school up though high school. A great event.

    Andrew Parsons is the new academic developer evangelist in the New York City area and starts next week. He’s relocating from Australia. We’re all very glad to have him join the team in the US. He’s hosting his first Imagine Cup event in about a week. He writes about it in his blog at NYC Imagine Cup Kick off - Inspiring students to change the world for the better.

    If you’re a student or someone who works with students in the New York area and want to know what all the fuss is about around this Imagine Cup thing, please come to the NYC Imagine Cup kick off on Thursday November 4 at 5pm. I would love to meet you and find out how you’re thinking about technology that can change the world.

    The event will be held at St Francis College in Brooklyn Heights – check out the registration page for the details and to register yourself to attend.

    If you are teaching Visual Basic, or trying to learn it yourself,  I came across this very helpful Visual basic Programming guide. That’s for VB 2010 but there are links to similar guides for older versions of Visual Basic as well.

    An important reminder for any tech savvy girls you may know, the deadline for the Award for Aspirations in Computing is soon - 10/31! Apply: Girls can win $500 cash, a laptop, and a trip to the awards gala.

    Several good links from the Computer Science Teachers Association last week. For one thing there is a new issue of the CSTA Voice! with a focus on "CS Education Week" The CSTA blog also had a post announcing -  Exploring Computer Science Website Arrives! Also Steve Cooper, Mehran Sahami, and Paulo Blickstein at Stanford University have a project about online repositories of computer science educational material and are looking for teachers to help by responding to a very short online survey, asking what websites you use to get materials for your classes and why you do or do not use online repositories of educational materials.

    Oh are you interested in cloud computing? Bob Familiar recorded three talks by David Platt of the Harvard University Extension school. You can find them at:

    A reminder, I tweet links and information and some random fun stuff all week long from @AlfredTwo so if you are on Twitter I hope you will follow me.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    New Hampshire TechFest 2010


    I spent most of Saturday at the New Hampshire TechFest at Windham High School. NH Tech Fest is a Satellite Event of the USA Science and Engineering Festival  which was running concurrently on the Mall in Washington, D.C. I understand that Microsoft ad an even larger presence in DC but I was happy to be working in my own backyard as it were. Hundreds of students and their parents came through the exhibit hall to see technology displays by hi-tech companies, universities, high schools and demonstrations from FIRST Robotics teams. There were also talks,  workshops and at trebuchet competition . The idea behind the event was to:

    interest and excite middle and high school-age students from throughout the New England area about the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) through hands-on exhibits and entertaining presentations.

    And from where I say students were excited and were getting interested. I was demoing Kodu, for younger kids, and XNA Game Studio for older kids and getting a lot of interest. Of course it helped that is was in the both next to Harmonex Music Systems. You may have heard of their games Rock Band 3 and Rock Band Beatles? And more! One of their designers came with the new Dance Central and a Kinect device for XBOX 360. Kinect it the new platform that lets you play games without a controller – it follows your body movements. Kinect doesn’t come out for another 10 days or so which means not many people have had a chance to play with it. A lot of people had the chance today though and if the reactions are anything like typical there will be a lot of Kinect and new Xbox 360s being bought over the next couple of months.

    So kids waiting for a chance to play Dance Central or who were interested in learning more about game development afterwards were at my booth. It was a lot of fun. Of course many people have no idea how much work goes into a game like Dance Central. I was told that to get the dance moved right the company hired a lot of the best dancers in the Boston area (Harmonex is based in Cambridge MA) and did motion capture on them. Then the animation team went to work to improve on excellence. And boy those animated dancers sure look real.

    So while not everyone is going to go create the next great Xbox game even young people can get a start in game development with Kodu. I talked to several parents who like the idea of encouraging their children to move beyond playing games into getting creative making games using Kodu or XNA. I talked to a couple of teachers with similar ideas. Kodu looks good to a number of teachers to build interest and create some motivation with older special needs students as well. There are a lot of possibilities.

    So I had a great time at NH Tech Fest. I hope some people saw some interesting and exiting ideas at my booth. I hope they learned some things at many of the exhibits. I have to say I learned some things. So all in all a great day.

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