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

August, 2011

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Imagine Cup Projects–Making The World Better For Millions

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    Many of the best projects that are entered in the Imagine Cup are inspired by real people solving problems that have deep meaning for the project team. For some it is a family member or friend who suffered a great loss. For others it is a personal commitment to their local community. For others it is about acting more than just locally. Regardless of the motivation or the type of personal connection the best proejcts are potentially life changing (or saving) for millions of people. Microsoft just released a documentary about one of these projects. This one inspired initially by one person’s very real need for tools to help them succeed in their education but ultimatly about solving the same problems for millions of other people. It’s an inspiring story. More details below.

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    You’re been inspired by the Microsoft Imagine Cup student competition and watched the amazing stories from the Microsoft Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in New York City.  We are excited to release the first ever Microsoft Imagine Cup Documentary: Blind Ambition showing how society can benefit from the inventions coming out of the Microsoft Imagine Cup.  It gives voice to the struggles that many low-vision students face every day. The video chronicles the stories of two low-vision students – Jeremy, a student athlete, and David, a student technologist and member of Imagine Cup finalist team Note-Taker. The video features each of their struggles with visual impairment, and highlights David’s invention of an assistive technology called the “Note-Taker,” which is designed to help low-vision students be successful in the classroom. David and his team won the Microsoft Imagine Cup US Finals for Software Design and recently competed and placed second in the Microsoft Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals for Software Design competition.  David’s goal is to enhance the lives of the 20 Million low-vision individuals in the US and enable them to engage in the workplace.

    Also check out Wilson To and his Imagine Cup team who developed a new malaria test - BusinessWeek covered their project and it’s potential last week.



  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Congratulations Louis Zulli Jr. and Doug Bergman

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    There were nine winners in the Partners in Learning 2011 U.S. Innovative Education Forum, four second place winners and five first place winners (one of these was the teacher’s choice winner). For the second year in a row one of the top US winners was a computer science teacher. This year is was Louis Zulli Jr. who teaches at the Lakewood High School Center for Advanced Technologies in Florida. That is Louis holding his award with me below. Louis was first for using technology for learning.

    Louis Zulli Jr., Lakewood High School and Alfred Thompson, Microsoft

    Louis Zulli Jr., Lakewood High School
    Center for Advanced Technologies News and Information Portal (CATNIP)
    CATNIP is an ongoing project to create a school intranet that integrates campus communication, curriculum planning and facilities management into one site with students working in collaborative teams to develop this school-wide resource. This project uses a wide variety of technologies such as SharePoint Server 2010, SharePoint Designer 2010, Visual Studio 2010, InfoPath 2010 Expression Blend, and Silverlight.

    Louis is a modest man who has done absolutely amazing things with his students. By leveraging the MSDN AA and Dreamspark programs he puts serious professional level software in the hands of his students from their freshmen year. Students learn how to use this software by creating serious projects that solve real-world problems for their school. Students in this program are also earning industry certifications. His students regularly get internships and jobs outside of school based on the learning and projects that they have done in schools. Authentic learning at its finest.

    Second place in using Technology for Learning was also a computer science teacher.

    2nd place: Doug Bergman, Porter-Gaud School (South Carolina) Doug Bergman
    Project : Computer Science through Entrepreneurism and XNA Game Studio for the Xbox
    Students in this hybrid computer science and entrepreneurship class learn how to manage and work on a single large computer programming project using Microsoft’s XNA Gaming Studio, as well as developing their own software coding and problem-solving skills. They apply the equally important skills of entrepreneurism using the NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) curriculum, building, and eventually presenting a business plan for the game idea they choose. Additionally students identify something they are personally passionate about and create a game or simulation for the Xbox that teaches, demonstrates and generates interest in the area they have chosen. (See a previous post for more info on this project)

    You can read about all of the US Innovative Education Forum winners here. And you will want to watch the video on that post. It really shows, in the teacher’s own words, what the event was all about.

    Louis and Doug will be representing the United States at the Worldwide Innovative Education Forum this fall in Washington DC. Good luck guys! We’re all cheering for you!



  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links 1 August 2011

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    Last week was incredible at the US Innovative Education Forum. I’ll have more to say about that as this week goes on. Some great educators to highlight for example. Some lessons learned. And some pictures.BTW one of the teachers at the IEF, Kenneth Holden (@kennetholden) has posted his IEF Day 3 - Post-Reflection. Read about all of the US Innovative Education Forum top teams and watch the fun video at the TeacherTech blog. But for today I’m going to keep with my tradition of sharing interesting links. And there are a bunch of them this week. A lot going on. Perhaps people are getting fired up for the start of school. In some parts of the US it is still a month away while in others the time is being measured in weeks or just even days. So here we go.

    A couple of interesting autism links to start with. Using Kinect to help teach autistic children (a video)  In the coming months, the Hacking Autism Hackathon will work with touch-enabled apps for the autism community:  (Brought to you by HP)

    Ken Royal (@kenroyal) has an interesting Royal Treatment interview with Cameron Evans: Teaching Innovation.

    Also up last week, Den Delimarsky  (@DennisCode) and @shanuapril had the chance to interview Soma Somasegar - senior VP of Microsoft’s Developer Division. At the beginning it sounds as if Soma is interviewing them though. But it turns into a great conversation.

    A reminder from Microsoft Research (@MSFTResearch) The contest is on! Your winning tour could be featured on Microsoft Research’s WorldWide Telescope. MSR Intern Genevieve L'Esperance (pictured with me below during my recent visit to Redmond) is running this competition. Know any budding astronomers who would like to enter? Send them there.  

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    Also from Microsoft research is this Video about how MSR and the University of Washington are collaborating on a functional lens that promises to improve quality of life for diabetics and others. Speaking of medical break through, Wilson To and his Imagine Cup team developed a new malaria test - BusinessWeek covered their project and it’s potential last week.

    Cool new blog post by MSFT office team - 'What were teachers talking about at ISTE' ?

    Did you know that Microsoft’s Citizenship program (@msftcitizenship) donates software to nonprofits? 

    Posted by Computer Science Education Week (@CSEdWeek) CSTA's Executive Director, Chris Stephenson, speaks on the need to improve K-12 Computer Science in Oregon to Senator Merkley. A lot of interesting, useful, and to some extent worrisome information in her testimony.

    I spend a lot of time last week with Vicki Davis (@CoolCatTeacher) who was a judge for the Innovative Education Forum. She had a great op-ed piece in The Washington Post  - The greatest teacher incentive: The freedom to teach. One thing the teachers at the IEF has was this freedom to teach. Their results proved the value of this freedom in my eyes.



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