TCEA 2009 Day 2

Today I attended several sessions. One was on using robots in computer science classes. The presenter said that girls really liked working with the robots. This sort of surprised me because I tend to think (possibly because I am a man) that robots were “guy things.” But apparently girls like to create different sorts of robots. The puppy robot made with the Lego NXT system was pretty cute though. So I guess the key thing may be to allow the level of creativity that lets girls and boys put their own slant on the projects.

Another session was on “Life after AB – What’s next?” This topic is of course a response to the College Board closing out the more advanced of the two Advanced Placement Computer Science exams. This has some serious consequences and is very likely to reduce the number of CS course offered at many high schools. The problem is that by a student’s senior year many of them really want the added weight of an AP course on their transcript. If there isn’t an AP CS AB course many of them will not take an additional CS course no matter how advanced if there is not AP weight to the grade. They’ll take some other AP course. It wouldn’t be so bad if there was other honors weighing but many schools only have two weights. So while we’d all like to think that students would take a course to learn interesting things that isn’t always the primary motivation. This is a problem without an easy solution.

And of course I attended the TA/CS SIG meeting and gave my invited talk. I had some weird problems with the projector and could not get my computer to display on it. Fortunately my manager was there and we were able to hook his laptop up. We couldn’t do the demos that I wanted to do though because even with his computer things were not quite right. Still the talk seemed to be well received and we did demo Kodu to some teachers after the business meeting was over. As always it was great to see some familiar faces and meet some new people. The people in the TA/SC SIG are just some of the best people and I always enjoy meeting with them.

Tomorrow with my talk out of the way I will relax a bit. I have a number of sessions I have marked to attend – one on hosting your own robot competition sounds pretty interesting for example. Plus I’ll hang around the bloggers garage and visit the exhibit hall as well. I need to bring some information home for my media specialist/technology integration specialist wife.

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