Three student videos that you do not want to miss!

Most of you have probably seen the results of our latest Faces of Computing video competition themed around Computing for the Common Good, and I’m sure you’ll agree that the winning entries delivered powerful messages. The High School division brought in some really outstanding projects and it was a tough decision for the committee to make. Despite the fact that they didn’t make the prize, these two videos are winning material and definitely deserve special mention.

Camille Burke of Oak Knoll School in Summit, NJ held a brainstorming session with her class before they divided into groups to make their videos. The students then generated their own ideas and created a storyboard and script. Each group designated specific tasks to specific students (Director, Videographer, Actor, Film Editor etc.). In the process of making the video, her students learned how important technology really is and how big an impact it has on our lives: “Our storyline was inspired by our school and the huge part technology plays in the atmosphere. But it’s not just about learning or having fun; technology can be used to help others. Our school emphasizes the importance of service and we wanted to convey this message to others around the world.”

The end result is a fast-paced video that vibrantly demonstrates a multitude of ways in which computing has made a valuable difference in their lives.

On the other side of the US, Catherine Wyman from Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix Arizona says the theme of “computing for the common good” was a natural fit, as the school continually focuses on service. Her students were inspired by the “Draw my Life” videos on YouTube and learned how to create the whiteboard animation by trial and error: “after planning the pictures we had to engineer a tripod – using a biology textbook, rubber bands and tape! – to keep the camera steady while filming. Then it was edit, edit, edit till we got it right. It was a challenge, but also a lot of fun. We really enjoyed the opportunity to be creative”.

Watch the video and learn how computer-programmed ICDs have saved the lives of thousands of people.

Finally, I couldn’t help sharing this video with the Advocate readers: the winners of the Elementary division send a special message to CSTA members around the world!

Congratulations to all the teachers and students who sent in their entries, thank you for showing us how your communities use computing to make the world a better place… and keep up the amazing work!

Mina Theofilatou
CSTA International Representative
Kefalonia, Greece

Spotlight on the 2015 Faces of Computing Video Contest: How Does Computing Better our World?

Once again I find myself writing a blog post in a hospital setting and I can’t help but marvel at the wonders of computing technology; over the past week my dad has undergone exhaustive pre-op screening to determine whether he will withstand the vascular surgery he needs. Many of these tests were performed using computer aided technologies such as CT scanning and ultrasonography, and so far the results are encouraging.   

The timing is also perfect to write about our exciting new video competition: last year our Faces of Computing theme brought in a wide range of multimedia productions from schools all over the world, and it was quite a task to decide on the winning entries. This year we’ve decided to narrow the theme to “Computing for the Common Good,” in an effort to illuminate aspects of computing that are often overlooked by the younger generation. Sure, gaming and social media are a big part of our lives, and they involve a great deal of coding to create and maintain; it’s time however we gave some thought to all of the benefits society and mankind are gaining from the age of computing.

Teachers, help prepare the future generation of socially aware citizens by discussing the challenges of 21st century society and inspiring your students to seek solutions. Be it the advent of computer-aided medicine and biotechnology, volunteers crowdsourcing knowledge on the Wikimedia projects or crowdfunding donations for noble causes, robotics to the aid of disabled persons… there’s a multitude of applications that illustrate how computing is used as a tool to better our world. The entries we are looking for could resonate these tools. There may be youngsters who are involved in school communities who discuss social, gender and/or racial inclusion, or who are active in helping the recent international flow of refugees from war-ridden regions. Perhaps they could brainstorm a solution in their computer science class, and even develop it into an app (like the Neverlost group project: the page is now available in English). We’d love to see your ideas!

Entries should be submitted in the form of a video with a maximum duration of three minutes: see the competition guidelines for more information. Remember that the deadline for submitting your entry is November 7, 2015. So, get your creative juices flowing and show us how computing can play an important role in making the world a better place!

Mina Theofilatou

CSTA International Representative

Athens, Greece

This post is dedicated to the memory of my mother, who was always compassionate to those in need and an ardent supporter of positive change. Special thanks again to Dr. S. Matthaiou of Hippocrateio Hospital for helping me make the right decisions on my dad’s problem, and to Dr. N. Besias of the Hellenic Red Cross Hospital for taking good care of him and expediting the procedures.

We’d love to see more student-developed apps like NeverLost

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A child goes for a walk in the nearby forest… all of a sudden she realizes that she has lost her way. How can she alert her guardian that she may be in danger, especially when she has a mental handicap? A challenging situation no doubt, calling for a practical solution… which came in the form of the “NeverLost” app, designed and coded by a group of students from four collaborating schools in Corfu, Greece.

As the website is in Greek only, I will attempt here to present an overview of their work.

The four schools met and got down to work on their first task: to roll out a plan. Here are the steps:

  • Investigate application requirements.
  • Carry out market research to explore the competition in apps designed for kids.
  • Design functions.
  • Delegate tasks to the individual schools.
  • Code app in App Inventor.
  • Design app in Photoshop.
  • Transfer design to App Inventor.
  • Publish app in Google Play Store.
  • Design and develop webpage.

Next they decided which school would be responsible for each stage of the plan; “Kato Korakiana Vocational High School” would work on the design of the app and the webpage, and Amfipagites Middle School, the 2nd General High School and the 4th General High School of Corfu would collaborate on developing the app and writing the code in App Inventor.

They concluded that the app should include six functions:

  • Make phone call (e.g. dad, mom, guardian)
  • Send message (e.g. dad, mom, guardian)
  • View your location on map
  • SMS your location (Latitude and Longitude coordinates)
  • SMS your location on map
  • Settings (assign phone number to receive calls and messages)

Finally, they decided that a short video would help explain the concept to potential users, so they filmed a “trailer” for their app.

The project was presented with great success at a Computer Science Teachers Conference in Northern Greece and received wide appraisal in the national press and the Internet. Μore information is available on their Facebook page or directly by email: scroll to the bottom of their webpage for details (I have checked that their admins are eager to answer questions and provide info in English).

We would really love to see more great projects like this: the students and teachers involved deserve all the credit in the world for their social awareness, teamwork abilities, app market savvy and  competitive design skills. Keep an eye out for this year’s video competition of the CSTA Equity Committee themed around Computing for the Common Good: dates and guidelines to be announced soon!

Mina Theofilatou
CSTA International Representative
Kefalonia, Greece

 

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L’Oréal For Women in Science Program

I don’t hear often enough about the accomplishments of young women in professional or near-professional accomplishments in CS, so I was excited to learn about the annual L’Oréal For Women in Science program that recognizes and rewards the contributions women make in STEM fields and identifies exceptional women researchers committed to serving as role models for younger generations.  More than 2,000 women scientists in over 100 countries have been recognized since the program began in 1998.

The L’Oréal USA For Women In Science fellowship program will award five postdoctoral women scientists in the United States this year with grants of up to $60,000 each. Applicants are welcome from a variety of fields, including the life and physical/material sciences, technology (including computer science), engineering, and mathematics.

Do you know someone who qualifies? Do you have acquaintances in universities who might know candidates? Please send them the information.

Applications opened on February 2, 2015 and are due on March 20, 2015.

The application and more information on the L’Oréal USA For Women in Science program can be found at www.lorealusa.com/forwomeninscience.

Should you have any questions or require additional information, please e‐mail rpacifico@us.loreal.com.