Following the Software Development Cycle

April 22, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

         As a cumulative end of the year project my students are going to design a software product that should be marketable.  I want the students to follow the entire software development cycle.  They will start with gathering the requirement specifications and understanding the need of the industry they are working in (could be cars – a popular choice-, medicine, entertainment, etc.). The next step is to create an abstraction.  Students will be turning in a flowchart or a pseudo code of the product they plan to create. The software created then will be tested using test cases created. Finally they will create a market brochure and flyers for advertisement. The final deliverable in this project is a 10 minute classroom presentation to one of their favorite teachers in the school.

            In all, students have 10 deliverables and have a timeline by when each deliverable is due.  This week, they brainstormed among themselves and came up with ideas to create a project. They had to decide what their industry was, and who their customer was. One that I loved was two students who want to build a model for a new kind of fishing boat. They want to prototype the model using Photoshop and create an advertisement video using iMovie.

            Another interesting happening this week, was conducting the AP pilot in the CS Principles class.  The test was online. There was a mixed reaction from the students about the tests. There were students who felt they were very well prepared and the others who felt intimidated. As usual the programming/ algorithmic questions are the ones that the students felt most uncertain about.


Big Data: Questions – key to Data Modeling and Data Analysis

April 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An interesting experiment took place in class today.  The class was finishing up their presentations on Big Data. One team picked up music. Theirs was more of a report. Based on their research, they reported that music among teens is very popular. Teens listen to music for two reasons: one to fit in among their peers and another to help them deal with the challenges of being a teenager. Finding this to be very interesting I asked my students how many used music to help them deal with their day-to-day problems. At least four heads nodded silently.

Moving on, I asked the team to put up questions to find out why teens listened to music. The students came up with the following three questions:

  • Music & coping
  • Music to keep self – entertained
  • Music because of interest

Results: (Class size 22)
I – 0

II –  12

III- 10

Now, I can tell you honestly, very often when I am upset, I listen to music to calm myself. It should be quite safe to assume that this is true for most people. But it was very surprising to see that not one student chose music and coping!  One student turned towards me and said that he did not need music to ‘cope’ because he had a good home life. The students had interpreted the word “cope” to mean handle conflict!

I am willing to bet if (I) had been labeled Music to Motivate or Music to feel Good rather than Music & Coping, the number tally would be very different.

It is important to note that the design of the questions is probably the most important aspect of the data mining projects.

Greenfoot and Object Oriented programming

April 8, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

After a couple of frustrating sessions with Greenfoot, (a few weeks leading to spring break) I decided to take a step back and find out what was frustrating my students. Thinking about it, I understood that some concepts of object-oriented programming were bogging the students down.  So we (Rona, my student teacher & me) decided a different approach. Rona walked the students through the next tutorial. When a student got stuck, we asked students to raise their hand and we got them help (Rona, me or another student). When there was a concept that was new or a new terminology introduced, we stopped and I gave them a quick 5-10 minute lecture.  We did this for three days.

We might have had a break through. We will find out in the next few weeks as we come back from Spring break.  We did ask the students to design a simple class in Greenfoot from one of the programs available. We have not looked at all the projects but the few we did see were quite good.

Big Data : Revisited

April 7, 2012 at 10:24 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Easily the most popular unit in the entire course at this point I can confidently say that every single student enjoys Big Data. Here is an illustration. One of my girls did not enjoy programming.  In fact she had decided computer science was not her career choice but she was going to become a nurse. While the class was making the Big Data presentations I asked her what she thought of the unit. Her words were “interesting, fun and practical!” It had caught her interest and made her think a little more about computer science and its relevance!  This student has one more year before she goes to college and maybe she will change her mind?

Another one of my Seniors who had taken the class because it was an elective credit that he needed to graduate and had chosen to turn in mediocre work throughout all topics came to me after the Big Data unit and told me that this was the most interesting topic he had done all year in all his classes!

So… what did we do in these classes? The class split into groups of three. Each group picked an industry of choice: movies, music, video games, retail industry
(toothbrushes (!), shoes, retail stores). For each industry they were required to find a problem they had. The problem had to relate with improving business. The next step was to then create a set of questions which would help them understand the problem and analyze the problem better. And the final step was data modeling and charting out the results. Part of the grade was to present the results to the class, which of course for my set of students is the most exciting and fun part: they love to show-off their results.

I am taking these projects and making them into case studies. The idea is for it to be available for the next year’s students to read, analyze and then come with their own projects for data mining.

Playing Catch Up…

April 6, 2012 at 3:40 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wow! Where did the month of March go? It has been crazy, crazy.

How does one catch up with past blogs? I am not going to play any catch up. I will write one blog each day this weekend, until I feel I have said everything I need to convey. Then I will go back to my bi-weekly postings.

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