I’m at the Computer Science Teachers’ Association conference in Boston this week. And so far, it’s been a marathon. I’ve forgotten how tiring conferences are! They’re great. They’re energizing, but they do wipe you out. Yesterday, I took part in two workshops. The first was about using the Finch robot and the Hummingbird robot kit. We brought our own, of course. Mr. Geeky worked with the Hummingbird and I played with the Finch. For all these things, it’s a matter of figuring out what your functions are and what values they take. Once you know that, you can usually do almost anything. Here’s my Finch up and running:
I built a program to make it avoid light. It worked pretty well.
The next workshop was one on design thinking and App Inventor. I was most keen on learning about App Inventor, but I ended up appreciated the design thinking part as well. We used arts and crafts to prototype devices and apps. Our group came up with the Google Car, Teacher Edition, which included an auto grader and planner and a meal generator. Okay, we were dreaming, but it was fun anyway.
After that, we headed to Microsoft’s NERD center. NERD stands for Northeast Research and Development. We looked at some demos of products and ate some lovely h’ors d’oeuvres and had a drink or two. Several people spoke about the importance of CS Education, including Henrietta Davis, the mayor of Cambridge, who’s been working on several initiatives in Cambridge to increase CS in the schools. We also heard from Cameron Wilson, director of public policy for the ACM and who is working on a partnership with Code.org.