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

October, 2011

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Kinect-ing at the NJSBA Annual Workshop


    Normally the conferences I attend are about educational technology or computer science education. Events like ISTE, MASSCue, TCEA, SIGCSE or CSTA’s CS & IT. But the last two days I have been at the New Jersey School Board Association annual workshop. We’re hear talking about Kinect in Education. Yesterday we had a talk on their conference exhibit hall’s main stage. Today we were in the exhibit hall demoing Kinect and talking to attendees about Kinect. We’ve had some great conversations. Kinect in Education is still in its infancy and people (both in schools and at Microsoft) are still figuring out where and how it fits. This is especially true for beyond Physical Education where the application is pretty obvious. In fact I think if I demo Kinect enough I will start to like the shape of the guy on the screen. Smile I also had a chance to talk to some students at the conference who were showing off their robots.


    There were students showing off several classes of robots that are part of the FIRST Robotics family of events. They have events from grade school and middle school up through the FTC and FRC event for high school students. The students with me in this picture are part of FRC or FIRST Robotics Challenge. These are the “big robots” that can weight up to somewhere around 150 pounds. Microsoft has donated Kinect devices tor all FRC teams for the upcoming 2012 season. All of these students knew about that already which shouldn’t have surprised me. These are sharp kids. They are all ready thinking about what Kinect for control of a robot might mean for them and their team. I can’t wait to see what they come up with. Them and the 2400 other FRC teams we expect to see using these devices. My hope is that they will also start to think of uses for the Kinect beyond the robots. That would be pretty exciting.

    I have to say that a conference for school boards is different from one for teachers. And I don’t just mean for educational technology teachers. For one thing there were a lot more people wearing suits. I was dressed ok I think but without a jacket and tie I felt a little under dressed. And the booths were different. I counted at least three but maybe there were four booths with putting greens. The one below was the best of them though. And the food! Yes there were food service companies displaying the sort of food they would (in theory at least) be offering for students. The bread display below was just one of many I saw. And there were exhibits by insurance companies, architects, lawyers, and companies that sold artificial grass and “dirt” for athletics fields. Who knew that there were companies who made a business out of providing specialty dirt for baseball diamonds?


    All in all it was a good event and we had a lot of good conversations about Kinect in Education. But for me I missed talking to teachers. Thank goodness most of my favorite ed tech conferences are still to come. I hope to see some of my readers at one or more of them.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links 3 October 2011


    What a week. Not as much blogging from me because things were a little crazy. I try not to post just for the sake of posting so without the time to do it right I went a couple of days without posting at all. I have some things in the pipeline for this week that I hope you will find interesting and useful though. Of course even though I was busy doing other things doesn’t mean the flow of other interesting things coming through my email inbox and twitter feed slowed down. So I have some links to things from people more interesting than myself. Hope you find some of these useful. Oh but first a joke. A geeky joke of course. Found on Facebook

    What part of 1 + 1 = 10 don't you understand?

    Last week was NBC’s Education Nation series of events. Several people I know where there and have blogged about the experience. Lee Kolbert had her post on her blog and on the Huffington Post. Cameron Evans had two posts on his blog:

    One Education Nation had a panel that included Pat Yongpradit @MrYongpradit on it. In fact Pat was asked the very first question. You can watch the Pat Yongpradit on MSNBC video Great that they included a classroom teacher in the discussion.

    image The Microsoft Unlimited Potential blog ran a series in September called the Heroes of STEMtember to highlight Science, Engineering, Technology and Math teachers who are doing great things. I’d like to highlight a couple of those posts myself.

    Supporting America's Teachers is a post from last week’s Microsoft in Education blog. Worth a read.

    The September Tech Student of the Month - Ramsey Khadder is a high school student. Ramsey is doing some very interesting things in and out of class – including entering the Imagine Cup and competing with university students.

    Randy Guthrie had a great post last week called Imagine a World Where You Win a Free Trip to Australia with some great advice for students thinking about entering this year’s Imagine Cup.

    I posted a whole list of Windows Phone training events on the east coast a bit ago. If you are in the Chicago area, you can learn to develop for (the new) Windows Phone 7.5 at a free Chicago training. On 10/11 5:30 - 7:30 PM

    Ever thought of telling stories with Kodu - now you can – The latest version includes tools for creating conversations. Speaking of Kodu George Palaigeorgiou (gpalegeo1) and his students have developed  an open book about Microsoft Kodu in Greek at

    Helping teens (and adults) become better online citizens

    Chris Bowen @ChrisBowen Tells me that New England Code Camp 16 (10/29, Waltham, MA) registration is now open. Code Camps are an interesting form on unconference and you can learn all sorts of interesting things at them. And meet interesting people as well.


  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links 17 October 2011


    I spent two days are a Windows Phone event last week. One of several I posted date for at Your Chance to Learn Windows Phone Development for Free There are a lot more of them up and down the east coast. We had a few faculty members and students at this one and I think they  all learned a lot. I know I did. [Ed Donahue wrote about her experience in Boston at Why I Do This. Bob Familiar wrote about his at Windows Phone Hackathon draws in Pro Devs and Students. They both have pictures!]

    The Teacher Tech blog had an interesting featuring the work of Kelli Etheredge @ketheredge who I I met at the US Innovative Education Forum this summer. Read about it at Putting your students in the court room–mock trial, of course

    Know a tech-savvy girl? Encourage her to apply for the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing!  I wrote about this earlier at 2011 NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing. This is a really great program to bring some positive attention and recognition of girls who are interested in careers in technology.

    One of the ways Microsoft is using software to make things better is by  Making Buildings Energy-Smart at Microsoft. Ideas like this not only reduce energy consumption but make everything more efficient. This is just one way that software is making a difference in solving the worlds problems. For students the Imagine Cup is an opportunity to come up with their own ideas for using software to make the world a better place.

    Doug Bergman writes about his experience with the World Series of Innovation on his blog.  I wrote about this event earlier at NFTE World Series of Innovation

    I don’t know if you saw the very sad news that Dennis Ritchie (1941-2011), creator of the "C" language and co-creator of Unix, passed away last week. A lot of good things came from his work over the years. BTW the Windows Phone workshops I attended were in the heart of Cambridge’s Kendall Square where there is recognition of Steve Jobs, another pioneer we lost recently. People have been leaving various things there to honor his memory. I took a picture.


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