Students win prize for .NET Gadgeteer football game

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Earlier this year, students and teachers at LVS Ascot participated in the second UK school pilot of .NET Gadgeteer. James Franklin, an ICT and Computing teacher at the school, came across .NET Gadgeteer when it was demonstrated at the Think Computer Science event held by Microsoft Research in Cambridge in December 2011. He was keen to use .NET Gadgeteer in his school and could see its potential within the new GCSE Computing course. Other schools in the pilot had been using .NET Gadgeteer as an extra-curricular activity, so LVS were the first English school to use .NET Gadgeteer in the curriculum.

LVS Ascot entered three projects for the final pilot competition and students in all the pilot schools voted for the best gadget. There was some stiff competition from other schools, but “How Wide is Your Goal” , developed by Mathias Munk and Alex Langedijk, won the first prize of £500 for their school.

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At age 15, the students in Mr Franklin’s class were new to programming, and did find some of the new concepts challenging. However, they loved the idea of being able to create their own projects. As one of the students, Andrew X, said “You could come up with any idea and bring it to life”. The students said they found it easy to come up with a range of ideas for their projects. Peter Y said “It was cool to actually make something that worked and that you could hold in your hand rather than just see on the screen”. Mr Franklin was really impressed by what his students had achieved and noted that they had worked extremely hard to get their gadgets to work because they found Gadgeteer an engaging platform. Some advanced concepts for beginner programmers were involved in developing the gadgets, such as event-handling and timers, but working with Gadgeteer made these ideas more accessible by being very up-to-date and so hands-on. Students could have an idea based on their knowledge of their own gadgets and devices, build it, and actually see it come to life. The teachers at LVS School were keen to point out that a key selling point of .NET Gadgeteer is that it is a more motivating and more inspirational way of introducing topics in programming that otherwise might be quite dry. He said “Gadgeteer is good because it looks up to date, and you can make something that would fit in your pocket. You can also see all the circuits which is motivating”. Although the current GCSE Computing class consists of only boys, Mr Franklin feels that the Gadgeteer platform is completely gender-neutral and could be used to attract girls to Computing by developing their own gadgets.

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LVS are very pleased with their prize and are keen to continue using .NET Gadgeteer, particularly with their A-Level (16-18) students. Mr Franklin said that “Using such advanced hardware clearly motivated them and I am very pleased that they could receive recognition for their hard work.” As the organiser of this pilot project, I also was impressed by what they had all achieved and their enthusiasm to embrace new opportunities and to develop their Computer Science skills and knowledge.

Sue Sentance