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

April, 2012

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    2012 US Imagine Cup People’s Choice Voting

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    image

    The voting is now open for the US Imagine Cup People’s Choice award. You can visit the web site on Facebook and view profiles of the 22 teams who are attending the US Finals and select your favorite. All the teams are great and or course made their way through a rigorous selection process. We had more teams than ever apply this year and the overall quality of teams just gets better and better.

    While 21 of the 22 teams are made up of college/university students one of the teams, Digital Infinity, is made up of four high school students from Springbrook High School. I am told that two of the students attended the US Imagine Cup finals two years ago as observers when they were freshmen. Since one has to be 16 to enter they have been chomping at the bit to enter themselves. I’m really excited that they made it this far and I am honestly excited that I will be meeting them (and the other teams) later this month in Redmond. I’d love to see them win. Not that I am biased towards high school teams or anything. Smile

    The winning team in the People’s Choice voting also gets to go to Australia for the world wide Imagine Cup finals. There are also prizes for voting as well! Each week a voter will be randomly selected for win a cool price. So vote early and often. Well one vote a day. Full rules at the site.



  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    DigiGirlz Cambridge MA

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    IMG_1789Last Friday Microsoft NERD (New England Research and Development Center) was pleased to host DigiGirlz Day for close to 300 high school girls from around Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

    About DigiGirlz Day

    During the event, students interact with Microsoft employees and managers to gain exposure to careers in business and technology and to get an inside look at what it's like to work at Microsoft. This exciting event provides girls with career planning assistance, information about technology and business roles, thought-provoking exercises, and interesting Microsoft product demonstrations. By participating in the Microsoft DigiGirlz Day, young women can find out about the variety of opportunities available in the high-tech industry and can explore future career paths.

    Microsoft runs these events using volunteers across the country and around the world. You can find a list of the ones still to come at the Microsoft DigiGirlz Day website.

    At this particular event I was asked to do a hands on workshop using Small Basic. The idea was to give the attendees a taste of what programming is about. I wanted to show them that imageprogramming was approachable, that you could have fun programming and to tell them about the opportunities for making a difference in the world by creating software. Small Basic is a great tool for these goals.  It’s free. It’s easy to learn. It’s easy to use to create cool graphics and fun games. Over on the right of the screen is the image we worked on in this workshop. When I heard a girl in the audience shout out “oh my God! I did it. It worked.” I knew we were on the right track with the workshop.

    IMG_1790 Events like this are a small step in many ways. Having 300 girls made for a great event and we hope some of them were inspired to look at careers in STEM fields. But there are many girls (and let’s face it – boys to) who don’t get the chance to be exposed to the beauty, joy and excitement of the computer industry and other STEM fields.  But we do what we can.

    Oh one other thing Microsoft in Cambridge MA does is a limited high school internship program. The deadline for applications is about a week away and it is competitive so if you know a student who is interested let them know NOW.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links 2 April 2012

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    I spent part of last week Getting Ready For Windows 8. Sad to admit but it took me until last week to install the Windows 8 Consumer Preview over the developer preview I had been running.  But I did. And I also installed Visual Studio 11 Express for Windows 8 and I’m working on my first Windows 8 Metro apps. I’ve been taking the short cut of reading some of Dr. Z’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview Power User How To Series articles. Reading the directions are the shortcut. BTW I told that to a group of high school women in a workshop at Digigirlz last week (more on that tomorrow) and one of them shook her head and asked “Wait! Did a man just say that?” There I go busting stereotypes. Smile And through the week I collected some links to share with you. Hope you find something useful here.

    Microsoft in Cambridge MA has a limited number of high school internship program. The deadline for applications is about a week away and it is competitive so if you know a student who is interested let them know NOW.

    In Imagine Cup news, the world-wide Game Design Round 2 results are live! Congratulations to all teams that advanced to Round 3. At lest one high school team has made it into round 3 and from what I hear that is a great accomplishment. The game design entries are getting better and better every year. BTW the voting for the US Imagine Cup people's choice now open. You can vote once a day and there are prizes for voters.

    Mark Drapeau writes about how the TEALS program is creating high school adjunct computer science teachers. This program that started in the Seattle WA area is now expanding to the greater Washington DC area. I can see this as a model that can work all over the country.

    The New York Times notes that there is A Surge in Learning the Language of the Internet. Some of the comments are not as positive as one would like. Mark Guzdial gives his take on that at Getting the level right in learning to be computationally literate. Mark also blogged about the Secret Sauce of Successful Summer Camps  with a lot of the lessons that they have learned from running some very successful summer computer camps in Georgia. Yet another good post by Mark Guzdial is Manufacturing jobs are programming jobs: We need CS in high school.

    Ken Royal wrote an interesting blog post that he later decided should have been titled Saving the Document Camera/Visualizer Industry. I can see this being a potential great Imagine Cup project by the way.

    The CSTA blog asks computer science teachers - Why Aren't You Going to CS&IT?  Really this is an event to attend if you can make it.

    Someone recommended this site with Tutorials for Kodu, Alice and Scratch and it looks like it has  some good potential. Love to hear what others think of them.

    Lindsay Lindstrom‏ (@LindsayInPhilly) blogged: HackReady.Phone Webcast Series is coming soon!: Join us for HackReady, the new online learning series designed for developers to bring you the vital bits you need, without the fluff you won’t miss.

    Interesting slant on the "Best Programming Language" by Rob Miles (@robmiles). Worth a read.

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