WOW is my first response to our celebration of Computer Science Education Week. We kicked things off Monday with a short version of the “Hour of Code” Video. Tuesday we had a snow day so with some scheduling adjustments we picked up on Wednesday with our school wide participation in the coding tutorials found on http://code.org/learn. We set up a live webinar so that our homeroom teachers would be able to watch with the students and tune out when the class felt comfortable enough to try some of it on their own. We even created a back channel on twitter so students could send in questions to the presenter during the webinar.
Wednesday also marked the first visit by a technology company. MeetMe (A social location service) brought a fabulous team. They brought a Motion sensing camera Web App that we played ping pong with and a Web App that would place a Santa hat on anyone who walked into view. They spent 40 min talking to our Computer Science students about the path one might take to get a technology job. My students found that not all of them were computer science majors. They found artists and programmers working together to create something new. The team stayed through both our lunches (High School and Middle School) to talk to the rest of the school. Thanks Jason, Diana, Travis, Kevin and Corky. We loved having you here.
On Thursday AWeber visited us during lunch. AWeber was the same company that I blogged about previously(DEN Techformation – What does a software company look like?). They helped us organize all the technology companies that came during CS Ed Week. It really made this week something special that our students will remember for a long time. They were demoing how low the barrier of entry really is to start experimenting with web development using web applications like JSFiddle and learning tools like Code Academy. They set up a RaspberryPi + Interface Board + Door sensor, so when the door sensor is tripped, the Pi can send email, push notifications, or sound an alarm. They created a website to show pertinent information regarding the alarm. They explained the interface board is programmable using Scratch. The stuff they brought was just the hook to draw the students in. The team spoke at length to my students and later to the rest of the school during their lunch hour. They stressed the importance of connecting the different fields of technology so that one is not working in isolation. There is a strong community of technology specialists that live on the web. “All you have to do is ask and you will find people who are willing to teach you anything” said Mike a Systems Administrator from AWeber. Thanks to the whole team Matt, Kelly, Mike, Michael, Jess, Bob, and Amanda. I would be remiss if I did not mention that Amanda was the driving force for coordinating all the companies for the CS ed Week events here. Thank you Amanda! Amanda and AWeber are working to create similar events and partnerships all throughout Bucks County. Thursday also marked the beginning of our Maker club. This is a group of students who are looking to create something with technology. The goal is to have something created in a very short time frame and to create as many things as they can before the end of the year.
Friday ended our week with two technology companies. Game-U whose founder Michael Kawas worked with LucasArts to create the Force Unleashed Video Game series as well as many other successful titles. Along with his wife Sari they demonstrated a 3D printer, a Video game programing environment and an Oculus Rift. The students flocked to these things and loved hearing about how they could start creating video games now. Across the lobby we had Brick Simple presenting Google Glass and Apps that can power them. Det Ansinn (President and Founder) showed the students how to use the Google Glass. He talked about how the things that he and his company create are things “you can’t Google how to do.” Det and his team just came back from the Florida premiere of an art exhibit they partnered with David Datuna to create entitled a “Viewpoint of Billions.” It uses Google Glass to create an interactive art exhibit. Det had to leave right after talking with our students to go to New York to oversee the installation of the exhibit at Lincoln Center where the exhibit will be on display from December 16th – 18th
This was a fabulous week that I hope is just the beginning of some good work with Code.