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

January, 2011

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    2011 U.S. Innovative Education Forum



    The Innovative Education Forum (IEF) is part of a worldwide program from Microsoft Partners in Learning. The program recognizes innovative educators and schools implementing 21-century skills in the classroom and the school community with the goal of improving teaching and learning. The Innovative Education Forum seeks to showcase creative and inspiring examples of how educators and schools are using technology.

    The U.S. Innovative Education Forum will be hosted on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA July 28-29.  The theme this year is Engaging students. Inspiring creativity. Preparing for the future. It focuses on how educators and schools engage students to solve difficult problems while inspiring creativity and, ultimately, preparing students for the future. 

    We would like to encourage educators to submit class projects as individuals or in collaboration with a colleague. School leaders are also encouraged to submit projects that highlight how technology is being used in innovative ways throughout the school community.

    Deadline to apply is May 15, 2011. Early applicants will receive a fun Bing Classroom Pack for their application.

    For more details on the event, to download the application and watch a short video of past IEF participants go to:

    We look forward to seeing you there!

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Field Trip! Johnny Cupcakes and More



    I’d never heard of Johnny Cupcakes until just recently. The other night I made the opening remarks and welcome at an event run by STEP that Microsoft hosted at the Microsoft New England Research and Development center (NERD for short). Johnny Cupcakes is a company started by an energetic, one might say frenetic, young man by the name of Johnny Earle whose nickname was the inspiration for a line of clothing, largely t-shirts, that often feature cupcakes in their designs. While not a hi-tech business it sure is an interesting one. And Johnny did keep mentioning Microsoft software that he had used in the setting up and running his business. So students did hear the message that computers are everywhere.


    As I said the event was put on by an organization called STEP that has as a primary role taking high school students on field trips to local businesses – both large and small. The idea is to give young people a look into the possibilities and the realities of what a job looks like. Microsoft has hosted a number of these tours at the NERD center but students in the program have visited retail operations, architectural practices, media companies, and many more. These can be eye opening experiences. And inspiring experiences. The student participants I met Monday night were excited, were motivated, and were looking to a future where they could succeed based on their own brains and hard work. And inspired by a very creative Johnny Cupcakes. I may have to buy one of his shirts now. Smile


    Speaking of field trips, last week I helped host a tour and learning session at our local Microsoft Technology Center in Waltham MA for a group from Year Up Providence (RI). This is the fifth year that the MTC has hosted a group from Year Up.

    Year Up's mission is to close the Opportunity Divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.

    They do this through internships, training and yes field trips like their visit to the MTC. On this visit I talked about career skills such as networking, interviewing, and the like. But I also talked a little bit about careers in technology. The rest of the visit included some great technology displays and more talk about technology careers. It is important to expose students to new horizons and give them an expanded career horizon. Field trips can do this. I know that field trips sometimes get a bum rap but I hear a lot of excitement and renewed energy for learning from students after these field trips. While not all students will be inspired to study for a STEM career I think enough of them will to make it all worthwhile.

    At Microsoft, locally in New England at the MTC and at NERD but also facilities around the country, we have hosted tours by groups like Year Up and STEP but also from local high schools and middle schools. It’s one of those ways we participate in the local community and help to encourage students to stay in school, learn math and science, and perhaps one day enter the computer or other STEP field.  It gives many of our employees a chance to share their enthusiasm for technology careers and to show students that there are multiple paths and opportunities. And its fun.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links 31 January 2011


    Well my busy season is about to begin. Next week I will be in Austin TX for TCEA. I will be doing some talks and demos about Small Basic and hanging around the Microsoft booth  from time to time. I also plan to attend EduBloggerCon TCEA, the CS/TA SIG meeting and some sessions. Most of all seeing some of the many wonderful Texas teachers I have met over the years. And some good Texas BBQ for lunch. I also have meetings this month in Miami and New York City.  Early March is SIGCSE. After that I think I will schedule a breakdown. Smile

    I will be working in Florida for a couple of weeks the end of February and first week in March. Anyone in the Boca Raton area want to have a Microsoft guest come by their school? Let me know.

    Just a couple of links to share this week.

    A reminder that applications are now being taken for the 2011 U.S. Innovative Education Forum.

    For all you Mac people, you can download download  a 30 Day Trial  Microsoft Office for MAC 2011. You can download the trial directly from Microsoft at I hear good things about it BTW and not just from Microsoft people. There is an FAQ on the trial at

    The latest of the Microsoft Campus Tours on Channel 9 is out. This one focuses on Microsoft’s transportation options on and around campus called The Connector | Microsoft Campus Tours

    In other Channel 9 new, the Coding 4 Fun site has migrated to a new home on Channel 9. It is now at Same great content. Same nutty authors with some additions. Lots of interesting projects for people who code for fun!

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