Saturday, 7 September 2013

BBC News - Why Minecraft is more than just another video game

BBC News - Why Minecraft is more than just another video game:
Minecraft's creators revealed this week that the blocky freeform building game has 33 million users. It can easily become an obsession.

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Robot Challenge 2013: championship for self-made, autonomous, and mobile robots - YouTube

▶ Robot Challenge 2013: championship for self-made, autonomous, and mobile robots - YouTube:

'via Blog this'

Friday, 2 August 2013

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

World of Codecraft: 3-D Game Teaches Kids 'Big Ideas' of Programming | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com

World of Codecraft: 3-D Game Teaches Kids 'Big Ideas' of Programming | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com:
BY KLINT FINLEY 07.19.136:30 AM


ENGAGE, a 3-D game that teaches programming concepts to kids.
Videogames are a waste of time. Well, not always. Sometimes they can teach you stuff, like honest-to-goodness computer programming skills.

The trick is to make these educational games as interesting and enjoyable as the shoot-em-up variety, and that’s not always easy. But researchers at North Carolina State University want to help. Dr. Kristy Boyer and Fernando Rodríguez are studying the way youngsters respond to a 3-D game that teaches programming, hoping to discover the secrets of building games that are not only educational but enjoyable"



'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Computing in Northamptonshire: Gary Hill: solving problems

Taken from Computing in Northamptonshire: Gary Hill: solving problems:


"Referencing within Code in Software Engineering Education!
Computer Education 05/2012; 10(166):1.
ABSTRACT Traditionally computer sciences courses will assess software code. It is common and accepted good practice (as in written reports) to reference other sources of appropriate material. However there appears to be no explicit method, recommendation or advice available to computer science tutors and students on a referencing approach!

This paper aims to stimulate discussion from peers involved in software engineering education. By discussing the apparent lack of ‘referencing within code’ advice to students and proposing suggestions for appropriate solutions. This will be based on the authors’ experience of assessing code and the current advice given to their students."


Is it Visual? The importance of a Problem Solving Module within a Computing course

Computer Education 05/2012; 10(166):5.
ABSTRACT This paper looks at student’s view of the usefulness of a problem solving and programming module in the first year of a 3-year undergraduate program. The School of Science and Technology, University of Northampton, UK has been investigating, over the last seven years the teaching of problem solving. Including looking at whether a more visual approach has any benefits (the visual programming includes both 2-d and graphical user interfaces). Whilst the authors have discussed the subject problem solving and programming in the past this paper considers the students perspective from research collected/collated by a student researcher under a new initiative within the University.

All students interviewed either had completed the module within the two years of the survey or were completing the problem-solving module in their first year.



Robots within the Teaching of Problem-Solving

ITALICS 06/2008; 7(1):108.
ABSTRACT This paper considers the experiences of teaching on a module where problem-solving is taught first, then programming. The main tools for the problem-solving part, alongside two problem-solving approaches, are tasks using Mindstorm (LEGO, Denmark) robot kits. This is being done as a foundation step before the syntax of a language (Java) is taught to enable a Graphical User Interface (GUI) emulation of a previous robot problem.
Results of student evaluation and feedback will be presented and the use of twosimulators will be considered.



A virtual environment training system for haptic laparoscopic surgery

16th International Conference on Automation and Computing, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, 11 September 2010.
Source: OAI
ABSTRACT Most of the existing laparoscopic simulations which use simple objects are only for the purpose of the training of laparoscopic surgical skills. We have designed and developed an early prototype of a laparoscopic simulation system in which almost all of the soft tissue organs are modeled as deformable models which can be manipulated using a laparoscopic instrument with haptic feedback. Physics-based modeling is applied to realize collision detection, force rendering and elasticity deformation. A new mechanism to analyze and evaluate the injuries to the soft issues is introduced. Preliminary experimental results show that the simulator can meet the requirement of 1 kHz haptic loop update rate under complex virtual scene



Green computer science courses. No more labs full of computers, we?re going mobile!

THE PROCEEDINGS OF 7TH CHINA - EUROPE INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON SOFTWARE INDUSTRY- ORIENTED EDUCATION held at the University of Northampton, May 2011
ABSTRACT Traditionally computer sciences courses have been taught using laboratories full of expensive desktop computers. This approach may have been valid in the 80, 90?s and even the early part of this decade. This paper suggests that buying; maintaining and replacing laboratories full of computers are no longer a requirement. This paper raises the issues associated with such a ?bold? step, but offers potential solutions that, in some cases, may make Computer Science courses at such ?brave? institutions more appealing




Problems first

In book: Software Industry-Oriented Education Practices and Curriculum Development: Experiences and Lessons, Publisher: IGI Global, Editors: M. Hussey and B. Wu and X. Xiaofei
ABSTRACT This chapter considers the need to focus initial programming education on problem-solving, in advance of programming syntax and software design methodology. The main vehicle for this approach is simple Lego based robots programmed in Java, followed by the programming of a graphical representation/simulation to develop programming skills. Problem solving is not trivial (Beaumont & Fox, 2003) and is an important skill, central to computing and engineering. An approach will be considered, illustrated with a series of problem-solving tasks that increase in complexity at each stage and give the students practice in attempting problem-solving approaches, as well as assisting them to learn from their mistakes. Some of the problems include ambiguities or are purposely ill-defined, to enable the student to resolve these as part of the process. The benefits to students will be discussed including students? statements that this approach, using robots, provides a method to visually and physically see the outcome of a problem. In addition, students report that the method improves their satisfaction with the course. The importance of linking the problem-solving robot activity and the programming assignment, whilst maintaining the visual nature of the problem, will be discussed, together with the comparison of this work with similar work reported by other authors relating to teaching programming using robots (Williams, 2003)




'via Blog this'

Monday, 18 March 2013

Turning Trash into Toys for Learning




 Turning trash into seriously entertaining, well-designed toys that kids can build themselves -- while learning basic principles of science and design.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Wing Surveys Her New Opportunity - Microsoft Research

Wing Surveys Her New Opportunity - Microsoft Research: Wing Surveys Her New Opportunity
By Rob Knies
February 28, 2013 1:15 PM PT
When Jeannette Wing joined Microsoft Research in January 2013 as a Microsoft vice president and head of Microsoft Research International, in charge of Microsoft Research’s non-U.S. labs, she brought with her a sterling set of credentials. She had served long and well as head of the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University and for three years as assistant director of the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). A recipient of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Wing has a broad range of expertise, ranging from the foundations of trustworthy computing to software specification and verification to concurrent and distributed systems to programming languages and methodology. A month into her new job, she found time for a wide-ranging discussion about her new role and what she sees ahead.

Q: Why Microsoft Research, and why now?

Monday, 4 March 2013

LEGO NXT Balancing Road TwoWheels Robot - YouTube




LEGO NXT Balancing Road TwoWheels Robot - YouTube: "LEGO NXT Two Wheels self balancing inverted pendulum Gyro stabilized position course and speed. Jumping and climbing functions in Road Mode. http://nxttwowheels.blogspot.com/
NXT Ballbot applies the same technology on two axis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Eau8y...
NXT Ballbot Simulation with MsExcel: http://ballbotexcel.blogspot.com/
Lego NXT TwoWheels es un robot de dos ruedas estabilizado con gran movilidad y posibilidades. Está programado en RobotC y gracias a su interfaz Bluethoot puede ser controlado desde un ordenador o smartphone."

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Primary School with Computing Problem

A member of the School of Science and Technology helped a local primary school look at ways they could add some programming into some of their ICT lessons. The Greenfoot software (http://www.greenfoot.org/overview) and tutorials (http://www.greenfoot.org/doc) were used to demonstrate some possible ways this could be done. This type of activity is similar various people are trying around the country to persuade children that programming is fun and not as hard as some people may tell them (see Coding for kids is as easy as Pi  for another example)


This Greenfoot work forms part of the on-going out-reach activities the School of Science and Technology, University of Northampton is actively working in partnerships with schools. Other examples include:

For more details on any of these please contact Dr Scott Turner






Dad's club


Taken from a blog written at Irchester Primary School http://lab13network.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/dads-robot-lab/ about a robot activity. For more details about Lab_13 go to: http://lab13network.wordpress.com/


Dad’s Robot Lab!

Hi! This is Morgan and Emily. Our Dads come to Dads Club in Lab_13.
Last week, we had some visitors! They demonstrated how all of the robots worked. There were some amazing remote controlled robots and a Lego robot. The name of the person who worked with all of the extraordinary robots was Scott Turner. We were amazed by the robots. Thank you for coming.
 The Lego robot could be controlled by the computer. The other robot could do handstands, roly-polys and cartwheels. Some were doing gymnastics, walking, bowing and dancing. The Lego robot just went all over the place!


Emily’s stepdad, Robin, said “It was fantastic – I want a robot for Christmas.”Unfortunately they are £800! And Kris, Kieran’s dad said “Thanks for organising the robot lab … a nice little event, an amazing robot!” 






teaching and learning in computing journal papers



Kariyawasam K., A., Turner S., Hill G. (2012) 
"Is it Visual? The importance of a Problem Solving Module within a Computing course", Computer Education, Volume 10, Issue 166, May 2012, pp. 5-7, ISSN: 1672-5913.

Summary slides shown below




Hill G., Turner S. (2012) "Referencing within Code in Software Engineering Education!", Computer Education, Volume 10, Issue 166, May 2012, pp. 1-4, ISSN: 1672-5913.
Abstract: Traditionally computer sciences courses will assess software code. It is common and accepted good practice (as in written reports) to reference other sources of appropriate material. However there appears to be no explicit method, recommendation or advice to computer science tutors and students on a referencing approach. This paper aims to stimulate discussion from peers involved in software engineering education. By discussing the apparent lack of "referencing within code" advice to students and proposing suggestions for appropriate solutions.


If there are others recently in the school on teaching and learning please send me the details: scott.turner@northampton.ac.uk

What's is the problem with problem solving?