Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Software design project

I don't know if I have posted this before,

The Task: Scavenger Hunt

Mobile phones with inbuilt global positioning systems (GPS) are becoming more and more widespread. This means that you can use services like Google Maps on your mobile phone to see exactly where you are. It also makes it possible to play scavenger hunt games with your mobile phone. Imagine you could have a game on your mobile phone that gives you quests and clues depending on your position in the real world, and guides you through the scavenger hunt. Imagine that you could create such games yourself with your mobile phone, and send them to your friends.
Your task is to make a proposal how a program for a mobile phone should look like that allows the users to create scavenger hunt games. The user should be able to specify a sequence of quests. Each quest should have a GPS position and a question that the players have to answer. During the game, when a player enters the correct answer, then the position for the next quest is revealed.
In your answer you should:
  • explain the different functions you think this system should have;
  • describe the user interface elements of the program that allows you to use these functions;
  • give arguments for your design.

I would like to do this with my year 12 students as a test during the year.

Monday, 28 December 2009

The Buzz Contest

The buzz contest is not your playstation game, it is a contest in which you have to think about numbers,
This is what I am considering as a competition or test for my year 12 programing class

For the purposes of this, I will be using only Buzz, Wizz and Pop

The Buzz Contest is the mathematical equivalent of a spelling bee. Its 1992 revival at Texas A&M University marked the 10th anniversary of the last time Texas high school students had played the game at the 1982 Lamar Mathematics Day competition. Since then, this contest has been a popular feature of the Texas A&M University Math Tournament.

The general structure of the game is as follows: The students line up and count off. The first student calls N, where N is an integer between 1 and 20, which is randomly determined, the second student calls N+1, and so on. If a student gets his or her number wrong, he or she is eliminated and the next student in line must say the number the previous student should have said. All of this is done very quickly; a student may be eliminated for "delay of game".

So far, the game as described is too easy. To complicate matters, some numbers are designated as special. When it is a student’s turn to call out a number and that number is special, the student should not say the number, but should instead say some combination of codewords relating to the number. The codewords and their meanings are:

BANG: The number contains a 5 (in its base-10 representation) or is divisible by 5.

BUZZ: The number contains a 7 (in its base-10 representation) or is divisible by 7.

CRASH: The number is prime.

FIBBI: The number is a Fibonacci number. The Fibonacci numbers are constructed as follows:
F1 = 1, F= 1 and Fn+2 = Fn+1 + Fn. . So F= 2 , F= 3, F= 5, etc.

Thus, the first 6 Fibonacci numbers are 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8.

POP: The number is the product of two distinct primes.

SQUAWK: The number is the sum of two squares. For example, 9=32 + 02, and 5 = 22 + 12

WHIZZ: The number is square-free (is not divisible by a perfect square other than 1).

ZIP: The number is a perfect k th power with k greater than or equal to 2.

These codewords are not all in force at the beginning, but are introduced or removed gradually at the will of the moderator and in any order. For example, suppose Michael, Deena, Christa, Heath and Amy are still in the game. The codewords Fibbi, Bang, Pop and Zip are in force, and it is Deena’s turn on number 29. The sequence would sound something like this…..

Deena: 29
Christa: Bang
Heath: 31
Amy: 32 (This is wrong; Amy is eliminated.)
Michael: Zip
Deena: Pop
Christa: Pop, Fibbi
Heath: Bang (This is wrong; Heath is eliminated.)
Amy: Bang Pop (The next number is 36.)

Please note that a lot of students are likely to fall in the 40’s and 50’s as it is very easy to lose track of what number we’re on. The proctor will not advise the students. It is the responsibility of each student to keep track for themselves even as others are eliminated.

The discussion at this link should help you determine which, if any, of the code words apply to a particular number.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Holiday Reading

From a csta post http://blog.acm.org/archives/csta/2009/12/holiday_reading.html

Ah, the holiday break. Time to relax, catch up on sleep, and perhaps read a book or two. If you are looking for some interesting reading related to CS education, here are three books that I read over the summer and really enjoyed:
Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing, by Jane Margolis, Rachel Estrella, Joanna Goode (CSTA Board Member), Jennifer Jellison Holme, and Kimberly Nao. MIT Press, 2008.

Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell. Little, Brown & Co., 2008.

Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion, by Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen, and Harry Lewis. Addison-Wesley, 2008.

As a CS teacher, if you haven't read Stuck in the Shallow End yet, you really should. It gives a detailed analysis of factors that have led to our shortage of CS students, especially among women and minorities, and describes the project currently underway in L.A. to try and address these factors. All of Malcolm Gladwell's books are interesting and fun to read. This one looks at characteristics that lead to success (and so complements Margolis' book very nicely). Blown to Bits is a great description of the technological changes going on in society and how they impact our lives. Lots of fascinating facts and anecdotes you can impress your students with ;-).

I have read stuck in the shallow end, I brought the book off amazon, however this time I want to read blown to bits, the dollar at the moment is not good, so I have looked at books.google.com for a copy and found one.  Blown to bits-books.google.com

Monday, 21 December 2009

2010 course

since I am not teaching year 13 programming next year, I have brought some of the course forward to year 12.

I am planning on using the csta curriculum, or parts of it to help teach my students.

I am planning on starting with the problem solving part of the course first. This is due to the fact that I want to scare some of the students with what could be involved in the course, as with any course with computers students think that they will just be on the internet playing games. This is false.

The first problem is how to break a 200g cadbury chocolate bar into 12 equal pieces, using he least breaks possible, this is sounding like it is going to be a christmas problem that I will use my family to solve.

I also have to remember that there are two other things that have to be done during this time, 1 is the wai care visit, and second is the design of the screen of a software development project for the university of auckland. These are starting to sound like friday challenges. A new challenge every friday to spice the course up?

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Small Basic

I have been looking at a number of blogs surrounding programing and they have been talking about a development called small basic, a simple easy to use programming language, which would be great for a year 11 course.

Small Basic is a project that's aimed at bringing "fun" back to programming. By providing a small and easy to learn programming language in a friendly and inviting development environment, Small Basic makes programming a breeze. Ideal for kids and adults alike, Small Basic helps beginners take the first step into the wonderful world of programming.

Microsoft Small Basic pdf getting started


A great blog to look at different things dealing with small basic http://blogs.msdn.com/smallbasic/

Sunday, 13 December 2009

the national walking trail

While working on design the year 13 web design course, I planned to do some work with the old walkways New Zealand project that there was in the 1980's. There is information on this in the previous blog posts around april/may/june I think.

There is a national walking trail currently being created in New Zealand at the moment, http://www.teararoa.org.nz/ The Long Pathway.

This will be give me some guidance on how I would like the project to end up. Also I have to remember there is some designs in one of my visual diaries about this idea and design.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Google supporting computer science week


Love this section

Integrating computing curriculum across K-12 core subjects
A group of Google engineers and K-12 "teaching fellows" is working on building and testing models of curriculum to encourage innovation. These curriculum models revolve around "computational thinking", a problem-solving technique that draws on the thinking and analysis skills that computer scientists use everyday. Our goal is to integrate computational thinking across subject areas in K-12 by connecting these skills, which are already a part of core curriculum, more explicitly to computer science. We're also taking this a step further by integrating simple programming concepts in appropriate areas of core K-12 curriculum, such as algebra. Our hope is that by making computer science more visible and showing its connection to every subject area, students will experience the full power and utility of technology in areas of interest to them. Integrating CS into other subjects will also have the key added benefit of leveling the playing field, so that many more students will have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of computing.

Personal Teaching Statement

I have been looking for a while at personal teaching statement, and today I found one that is me...

It is called Avoid Passion to Porridge

I have always been impressed by those experiences teachers, educational leaders, school administrators and heads of department who nurture and encourage those teachers who enter with a passion for teaching and ensure that the flame of passion never dies. The same holds true for those teachers who ensure that their students maintain a love for learning. Conversely, I am highly unimpressed by people who use a relentless cynicism to affect some teachers so that their passion turns to a 'porridge-type' performance. Unfortunately we also find that many students have become cynical about learning and have lost that early quality learning and have lost that early quality of curiosity which characterises young children. I am impressed with schools where leaders and teachers are all pushing the same message of personal excellence, persistence and the benefits of a good education. Leadership is exactly that - it is letting everyone know that what we are doing is our schools is important.

If all teachers were to treat their classroom as if it were their own business, say a corner shop, then passion for what they are doing would be the least that their clients expect. We can no longer expect students to be docile Pavlovian learners. They expect to be impressed and motivated by teachers who believe absolutely in their business of education!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Three days to go

ahh, three days to go. It seems like this has gone so fast and I have multiple things to do. Will look at posting an image of my post it notes on here tomorrow. But why has it seemed to go so fast, we have had the last three weeks without senios, but I think this is due to the project that we have been working on, all of this takes time. Time that is running out fast, been at a learning management system all today looking at what is coming out in 2010. The biggest fear is the yui file uploaded by yahoo. This means drag and drop uploading. I have a meeting next week in Wellington along more ict developments in schools in new Zealand.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Software Education project

I have been following a blog since last year, the same time as the iphone were announced for new zealand, and a massive truck protest interrupted a conference that i was at down auckland.

Computing for sustainability, I have been thinking around a project for students to create a game around this subject. It will mean that the students will have to do research on the subject. It is just in the planning design in my mind at the moment.
Through gamemaker, we could the students to create a game that would see the enemy cutting down trees, and you have to plant more trees than they cut down.

Through this I am also looking at our class taking on some responsibility within the school in doing a management project of the school stream. This would be a Visual basic development where students enter the results of the different variables down there. They then would be able to see a change over time. This will mean that the projects that we are working on will fit within a vision of the new curriculum. Especially page 36 of it, which is stated in a sidebar of my blog here. I am looking at sustainability as a classroom focus next year. This could also fit in with the end of year project based learning topic that I am slowing developing...
This was going to be a project that i was going to develop with my year 13 students, but since I am not taking that course next year, I thought i would have a go with my year 12. Considering the stakeholders that are available for this (school science dept, waicare, primary schools)... It is better than the simple educational resource program I have been getting them to create for the past couple of years.

A question for me, is do I bring this same type of sustainability into the year 13 computer applications class as well. Or is that going to be overkill.

Last week of school

Ahh, what a year, the last week of school is now upon me, and I think this year it has snuck up from behind. I have been putting so much into the project that I have completely lost track of time.
I have a meeting on Monday with knowledgeNET, this will be an interesting one, with the SMS <-> LMS operability, as well as the moodle integration into this as well.
I also have to get moodle in schools going on our domain server, this will replace the current moodle installation that I put up this year. It will also mean a way of creating resources for the KN version of moodle as well.
I have schemes for my courses to write for next year, this is or particular interest as I will be teaching a course that I haven't done since 2002, when I first started at the school.
One of the biggest changes will be what type of course will be created for year 13 next year. I have plans for the year 13 web design class,which will involve some serious programming and design to get going.
e-asTTle is still an ongoing concern, I have emailed them requesting some information on what is coming on the next version, though they have not released any information on when it is coming out, or how it will impact on its current resources. Rumours are that there will be changes to the customised testing, when a more comprehensive test will be used.
How am I going to bring the changes that have been designed for the new intranet site, this has been designed in wordpress, yet our school intranet server does not run this currently.

Having some time to think

I thought I had better do another write up, with some extra information for me,

Time it has taken
21st November - Auckland Domain, to go through and find various cache places and puzzles.
22nd November - North Head - too look at locations for waypoint. Also cache making, various shop located to make cache boxes.
25th November - Auckland City to go through various locations for use for 3rd day.
28th November - Auckland Domain, to revise some locations as well as find some more caches and puzzles.
30 November - Drive around suburb to find locations for street orienteering.
1st December - Street orienteering, gps learning. Auckland Domain, to drop off caches boxes and check coordinates.
2nd December - Auckland Domain, Puzzles and Geocaching activities.
3rd December - Race around North Head, and CBD.
4th December - Auckland Domain, to pick up caches, lost Holey tree.
5th December - Auckland Domain, to take some photos to include in the Project poster. Create project poster to send to sponsors, as well as use at school.

Probably did not have enough time on the first day to do what is needed for the GPS.
Too many puzzles on second day, these sheets probably needed randomised to make sure that students did not go to the first cache site all at the same time. Holey Tree was probably a bit had it by the time the last group went, no cache items left.
Third day, the race, needed to get the GPS coordinates in Victoria Park correct to fix this in the future, though I don't know how much of the tunnel project will affect this park next year.
Total cost of the project? This needs to be worked out.
Can we handle more than 32 students, not really.

Geocaching the modern version of a scavenger hunt where we use billion dollar satellite technology to find platic containers (or other caches). It is a fast growing sport/hobby with potential for application in the realm of education. As students search for caches they apply many 21st century skills. The integration of this unique technology adds a "Wow" factor that increases student engagement and motivation.

Benefits to Students

Understanding of spatial relationships

Increased student engagement

Application of geography

21st Century Skills (Career-oriented)

Future technology

Different learning styles

One of the other things I have to consider when doing all of this is,

Schools should explore not only how ICT can supplement traditional ways of teaching but also how it can open up new and different ways of learning"
-The NZ Curriculum (p36)

Friday, 4 December 2009

final eval

2. What went well in your project?
No one got lost, the students and teachers had a good time and learnt a lot about locations in our own suburb, Auckland Domain, and how to get from one place to another in the Auckland CBD and north head. The students managed to get on really well and worked hard to complete the challenges that were posed to them.
I got to do something I enjoyed.
One of the interesting things was the responses to the text about what was positive.
I likes the 2nd day when we used the GPS thingie. It was way better than the third day.
Coming first on the first day. Im happy that our group did not cheat and did not use other groups to win. We played fairly and we gave it our best! I had heaps of fun! But not when I saw the possem. Lol. I am disappointing that we did not come first =’(.. But oh well.
Hi Sir, I particularly like when we went on the ferry to Devonport. It was fun.
We won man, we won, we came 1st overall
I fully enjoyed the whole event! The clues, the running around the awesome teamwork! I loved the ferry to Devonport! Mint Az, asking people random stuff! But the best part would have been knowing that our team worked hard and didn’t give up and held each other strong. Ooh and the great workout! Hehe. Thanks Sir.
Getting leaded to another area – train tracks! And winning today
It Raining!
Coming first on the first day and the second day.
For the future in the distance and the good that we can do. It just so happened that this was one of their final clues at Albert Park.

3. What improvements would you make to your project next time?
The street orienteering had issues on the first day, I managed to make a couple of the clues too cryptic and hard for the students to get the answer. Travel times on the train, I think I need to leave around 9:00 next time, not 9:25.
Bookings on the, not leave it to late again, having one person at school dealing with transport, rather than every group organising there own, especially with the train, many people getting confused when other groups where travelling.
Possibly less puzzles and more caches in the domain exercise, the students enjoyed finding these and texting the puzzle back in them.
Possibly another question at North head next time, as it seemed to be a race up and back to the ferry. Though thinking about it, it was good for them to have that demand put on them at the start.
Don’t rely on GPS software – I used easyGPS and google earth to come up with a puzzle for use at Victoria Park for them to use coordinates to write SKYCITY using their GPS units, this failed because the GPS was not able to go up to the numbers that were shown on the computer.
To collect the caches on the day, due to timing and other issues, tiredness and setting up the next day we were unable to go and collect the geocaches on Wednesday night, instead there were picked up on Friday morning. Losing one of the caches, though it has been interesting getting texts from the public texting the codes in from one of the caches “regeneration” in the domain. I think I received about 6 texts from people that had found this one.

4. What evidence of the students displaying the key competencies in your project did you see over the 3 days?
Where do I start with this one?
Thinking - students had to make sense of the maps, gps coordinates, and puzzles that lead them to various clues, caches and other various tasks. They had to use previous knowledge to solve the final clue on thursday, which was to get the railway stations that we stopped at the previous day in order from location to newmarket south. Some managed this within 30 seconds, others took 15 minutes.
Using Language, symbols and text - this is what the three days was about, there were puzzles, decrypts to solve a puzzle on where caches were, they also had to solve technological puzzles and questions through map reading, gps waypoints and marking where they were.
Managing Self - Self motivation to complete the puzzles and caches were a key factor in this project. The students had a can-do attitude which was evident when we got off the ferry and they had to make their way to victoria park market. The teachers did this in 25 minutes the previous week, the students did it in 10 minutes. The students also had to manage what credit they had on their phone, the SIM cards were provided by 2 degrees and they had loaded money on them for us. It was great to see then respecting this. As for the ferry, they knew when the times were and when they had to be back, all of them arrived within the hour of getting to north head and back before the ferry left.
Relating to others - one of the amazing things throughout this was that the students looked after each other, and the teachers. The negotiated what puzzles and caches they had to go to, what was the best for them. Looking at the north head, they looked at their team members and went, we will go to the top, answer the question and come back down, you rest a while so we can run back to the ferry.
Participating and Contributing - A common purpose soon became evident in this project, to beat the other teams, but there was also something else that came about, it was the concern for the other teams, if a team didn't turn up on time, the others became concerned for them and their safety. Especially when it came to the person following one team, which they rang for help, through it ended up being a possum in a tree.
The GPS units and the software I used to program the coordinates in did not match up for the Victoria Park exercise which means we had to come up with another puzzle for the students to do, it also meant the students were able to come together, talk about what they had done so far, and talk about strategy, which two teams came together to create one. I will have to think about this factor next year about teams getting together for next year.

5. What thoughts do you have about the duration/ timing in the year/ planning time and process?
Planning time, possibly not enough, though most of the planning had to take place near the time the event is run as things are ever changing in the locations that we went to. If it was to be run at another time of year there would not be some of the puzzles in place, I.e count the number of mice in the smith and caughey shop window. This only happens around xmas.
The domain caches need to be setup the night before, though I had been out to the domain the previous three weekends for planning.
Duration, three days was enough, the students probably could have not coped with another full on day of activity.
Timing of the year, it was evident when we jumped on the train and ferry in town, other schools had the same idea as us, though most of them seemed to be primary schools running around. I have to be wary of this next year if using the tunnels as there was a primary school in the tunnels as well.

6. What support would you like to see provided when we do this again in 2010?
Support, I have managed to over spend, by quite a bit, as when we were originally asked what costs would be and ideas, all I thought was transport, but getting the GPS devices, we were originally going to hire these, but the place did not have enough in stock, and they were the wrong type of units, more of one sitting on the dash board of your car. Then getting the items for the caches, not thinking about water or some food for the students. It kind of got out of hand. Though 2degrees did step up and help with providing 36 SIM cards with $8 loaded on each, and Veolia did help out with providing us with a discount on the train travel on day two, which helped fund the teachers travel. I don't want it to go over $20, but looking at all the costs involved; it would have cost the students $75 dollars each. I think I would like a little bit of funding help to be able to run this again, as I see costs as a big issue when doing Education Outside the Classroom

7. Overall organization - what would you like to see changed/improved/done differently?
Better timelines, I know I was lucky to be running the online selection, but the timelines for things seemed to be constantly changing, instead of one person to go to, I had two people, and things not being communicated between the two. Sometimes I felt like the piggy in the middle. I would like to see a cut off when a selection gets too big. One of the things that scared me was when 175 students signed up and around 150 of them turned up outside the Block for the first meeting. I never thought that there would be this much interest.

8. Any new ideas for projects?
Not yet, I think I am getting over this one at the moment. I have had this in my head for a while, and when I was at ulearn09, the ICT conference, I was chatting with an exhibitor about the GPS devices and the workshop that they were running on geocaching. I think I need some time to think about it.
I am a person who wants to do something different each year, I don’t think I can do the same thing, year after year. It is like my teaching. Never the same stuff. Technology changes all the time, and so do I.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

last day

Man, what an adventure. Today was the last day of the three day project. We started off into the city where we jumped on the ferry, then we were off to devonport. Once at devonport they found the teacher, I have never seen 30 students run across a busy road like that before, they collected there next clue which put them up to the south battery at north head, they had 1 hour to get up there, find the clue, and get back. Which all the teams managed, once back on the ferry they had a chance to relex before setting off for the next one at victoria park market, which noone managed to get right first time round. this is where we had a problem, the GPS units and the software i used to program the coordinates in did not match up which means we had to come up with another puzzle for the students to do, it also meant they were able to come together, talk about what they had done so far, and talk about strategy, which two teams came together to create one. I will have to think about this for next year. They then ran off to the sky tower to complete the next task, which a number of them missed the vital clue, and came up with the wrong answer a number of times. Then off to a shop to count the number of mice in the christmas display. I think we need to make actual rules about the numbers, because they really do need to go back and get the right answer instead of counting numbers. Maybe pen and paper, or the txt based system that seemed to work out well.
Off to albert park to find a quote on a sculpture where the students went around asking questions to people, I liked the answer of "I don't know, I will have to start paying a bit more attention to things around here as I come here every day".
Off to santas mail box in Brittomart square, where they had to get the railway stations in order on the southern line. One team struggled with this for a long time, as they had travelled that line three times in the past 2 days, i would have thought better.
It has been a great day, and a great three days.
Would i do it again, at the moment I would say no. As I believe that there are other things that we can do as well. I don't want to have to do the same thing over and over, it is not like me.

What have I taken out of this
I wish to get back into orienteering, I have just shown myself that something I did as a high school student and the learning and attitude that I gained through the sport at school and the interactions with the teachers and community that I was involved with, I was able to bring and show students various aspects of something I enjoyed when I was there age.
I was able to bring technology into a real and functional aspect of learning, all this stuff about cellphones not being able to be used in class, here I was pushing the boundaries of using cellphones in this experience, this was needed as a health and safety aspect as there was no way a teacher was going to be able to keep up with these students. A trip we did in 25 minutes, the students did in 10 minutes. The GPS devices have been a great addition into this as well, using this for navigation for day 2 was all about waypoints and puzzles, this is the day that the students enjoyed the most, well that is what they have been texting me.
I miss doing Education Outside the Classroom. That I can create an interesting and enjoyable program for the students, where they don't even know that they are learning. That I have to keep other people in the loop a bit better, and let some of the responsibility go.
That the weather is not a factor in this, students have been out in the rain and enjoyed it, they don't need jackets, Auckland is a hot environment, and we have been hitting 100% humidity 4 times in the last 2 days, and this rain has helped keep the kids cool.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

project - so far

It has been a far busier event that I though, so far I have over 100 text messages on the phone from the students that have been busily texting through answers to me.

Tuesday - Started off at school and got into it straight away, A street Orienteering event that took the students all around the suburb that the school is named after. We had teachers at key locations just to make sure that they were going through. One team didn't even make it that far. They managed to get lost around the first 6 controls.
Other teams managed to take a wrong turn which put them a good 600-700m out of the way, a couple of phone calls from them to me got them back on track. A wonderful time, where the students have all come back with stories about there adventure. I have to make sure that the controls add up to the clues. It looks like one of these was out by one, which mucked up some of the later clues.
The second activity of the day was learning how to use the GPS. We started off with a video from campbell live on geocaching, which provided students some information about what they would be required to do. At lunchtime I went for a walk around the school and found some locations that the students could go to. It was then all about waypoints and finding them, one a spot on the field, the other a distinct tree. Though we ended up 12 metres away from the tree.
Students then created there own hide and go seek. Five locations around the school, then hand the piece of paper on.

Day two, the train. this was an excellent experience, the company had put extra carriages on that accommodated the extra students on the platform, from here we managed to get to the newmarket south station and get up to the auckland domain, a quick safety briefing, and hand out of the gps units and clues, they were off.
Man, what fun...
Here are some of the clues
PUZ001 Millennium Tree
How many branches are on the tree
S 36 51.543
E 174 46.538

PUZ002 Centennial walk
how many light-posts on the centennial walk?

PUZ003 Sculputure
What is the name of the sculpture located here?
S 36 51.585
E 174 46.387

PUZ004 Band Rotunda
standing in the middle of the band rotunda, how many rubbish bins can you see
S 36 51.543
E 174 46.538

PUZ005 Statues
take a photo of your group with the same pose as the statues at
S 36 51.543
E 174.46.538

PUZ006 Take a seat
Take a seat, what numbers can you see?
S 36 51.413
E 174 46.396

PUZ007 Boulders
How many circular boulders are here
S 36 51.295
E 174 46.309

PUZ008 2 part
What is big and green located here?
S 36 51.794
E 174 46.525

follow directions to
S 36 51.689
E 174 46.457

how many poles are a different colour?

PUZ009 War
How many poppies are on the monument?
S 36 71.729
E 174 46.406

PUZ010 The Gates
How many runners?
S 36 51.792
E 174 46.239

PUZ011 Green Post
What are the three white letters on the green post?
S 36 51.590
E 174 46.792

PUZ012 Time goes slowly
For local mean time today, I have to do what?
S 36 51.713
E 174 46.753

What does MC Stand for?
S 36 51.654
E 174 46.753

We had some issues with some of the GPS co-ordinates, Even though we went out twice, some of them were quite out.
The caches the students enjoyed, though some students thought they could come up with a better location for some of them, I don't think they enjoyed the one under the bride, so they put it on top of the bridge under a bush. Regeneration ended up on top of the sculpture, not down the bottom, but we had an issue with one of the caches, it ended up be watched. I am now glad I did not put it in the tree.
Other issues surrounded one of the locations not being looked at in a two stage process.
I have some interesting photos of the sculpture which the students had to copy the pose of.
One of the most memorable moments of this day, was when the text messages started come in, which showed that they students were able to find the locations and answer for the puzzle.

All in all it has been a great two days, tomorrow, is still to come.

Monday, 30 November 2009

under the weather

No, i am not sick, the weather outlook for the three day project based learning is

Tuesday - Occasional rain, possibly thundery. Muggy northerly 22-18

Wednesday - Outbreaks of rain, some heavy. Northweste-lies dying. 25-14

Thursday - Rain at times. Easterlies developing. 19-13

Ok, so Tuesday we are based at school, that is not too much of an issue. Though, I have developed a 4.9km course that the students are going to have to do solving questions along the way. I hope some properties don't get scared with 32 students walking past there gate.
So questions will be asked when they get back. How difficult was the course, how easy is it without street names? Draw your route on the map. Was there any issues that you came across on the way. These questions are likely to be used again and again throughout the three days. There is not time limit on this exercise, though there will be time limits on the other ones over the next three days, how does this impact on your ability to think on your feet.

Planning for the domain drop is going well. Working on dropping the caches after 6pm tomorrow and looking at the light tonight, I guess we have 2 and a half hours to get it done, before we get darkness.

I probably have to get some more batteries for my GPS unit, and a $20 top up voucher, just to add some extra credit to the phone.

The third day still needs some planning on developing the coordinates required for the writing at victoria park.

Roles - 4 people in each group

What different types of caches are there?

find an earth cache, what is its purpose? GC1C31D

See if you can find a cache somewhere are new zealand that meets the guidelines, must be around auckland first, then you can go further afield.

Students could design their own cache, what could they put in it, where could they put it?

also some ideas for tomorrow, I like the one of throw the ball/kick the ball, graph them using a gps

Sunday, 29 November 2009

have been busy

All the tickets are brought, It is interesting going into brittomart on a saturday to pay for these, 35 discovery passes and travel on the train there and back the day before.
There are around 5 school groups jumping on and off the train on those days, so I think they may be trying to work it out. Spent yesterday running/walking around the domain, looking for cache sites.
1) Billy Goats Gruff
2) Cricket?
3) Holey Tree
4) Thomas the tank engine
5) Regeneration
6) Domain
7) Take a walk
8) between a rock and a hard place or hidden cave?

the caches have been made and will be dropped off to there various locations on Tuesday Night.

Currently loading all 35 contacts into cellphone and creating groups for this. Can't wait for the first full student message to go out. Looked at the vodafone symphony and the issues that they had with the network.

What is with the weather, is it going to rain or not?

To get credit for the cache, share your experience by composing a Cinquain Poem. A short description of a Cinquain Poem is provided.

A Cinquain Poem has five lines:
Line 1: Title (noun) - 1 word
Line 2: Description - 2 words
Line 3: Action - 3 words
Line 4: Feeling (phrase) - 4 words
Line 5: Title (synonym for the title) - 1 word

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

have been busy

Yay, now I have all 8 Garmin etrex h GPS Units, a nokia cellphone with the SIM Card now installed and all ready to go. Just need to find some batteries now?
Good thing we have a property manager with batteries for a lot of clocks. saves me spending 29.98 for 40 batteries.
Plan for tomorrow is now in place. Getting into Auckland and having a day of the amazing race, secondary school style!

Just have to remember to pack a lunch and water.

Oh, its not $5 on the cards, its $8. That means that the students will be able to do some other txting. Wonderful news for them.

Train timetable

have been busy

Ok, this is starting to seem like a theme with this "have been busy" but we have.

Had a meeting thins morning to talk through a number of things with all the group leaders, one of the biggest factors is the transport everywhere. I don't think the train company is going to like us, as there have been three people ring to book extra spaces. Oh well, all is fair in the placement of your students on the railway platform. Other things are just the emergency procedures if something does go wrong.

We are off to town tomorrow to see a few sites for the amazing race setup. Just have to figure out how long it is going to take us to get around town. + the extra time that could be allowed for ferry travel.

The students have been busy getting permission forms back and some have even emailed through some questions about how this is going to run. Things to remember for next time. Seperate all three days and make it clear where they are to be and at what time.

Also got told today that this project based learning will be running next year, but with a better planning and leading up time. Start planning term 2, for a term 4 run.

have been busy

Ahh, 2degrees mobile, we thank you,

I first put up if you can help tweet on twitter, next thing I was being Direct Messaged by 2degrees for more information. It is great to see a company able to help us out. Thank you for the SIM cards and credit to get started on this project.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

have been busy

Ahh, the struggle of the end of the year. We had our first meeting with 30 of the 32 students today. They seem eager to get out there and get going. We started off handing out the letter to parents and the permission form. And then went through various scenarios with them, I then realised that the letter should have contained a disclaimer about what happens if their child does in fact become lost. We had a hour to fill in, so I managed to find some question sitting on the net for students to go through and find the answers relating to geocaching, http://edweb.sdsu.edu/courses/EDTEC570/cooltools/gps.html what different terms mean and so on. I had to change some of these, especially some which related to some unfortunate sites, also included an incident in Auckland earlier this year, just to get some students to see the seriousness of what we are planning to do.

We used this time as teachers to go into a room next door and discuss what is happening from today to next monday, what needs to be done, what needs to be carried out, and what will be happening thursday as we go into town to get the amazing race going. We have a plan that we will start off with and location, realising that it will be around 1 hour to 1 and a half hours to complete the devonport section.

I am working out what to do with the 2degree SIM cards at the end of the project, plans were that we would hold on to them to be used for another project next year, but after talking with the students, they seem keen to take a memento from the project, this could be the 2 degree SIM cards, they will also get a geocache item to take with them as well.

Working out prizes for the top group as well came up today, and to be honest I did not even think about that.

Also dealing with getting the GPS units for this. Went down to dse powerhouse today to pick up the units, only two had turned up, 4 are still in transit, and the other two were coming from other stores and had not yet made it, or knew where they were. I managed to get one from a store close to me, and the other from the store that is at the super centre. So I have four with me at the moment, 4 hopefully arriving tomorrow. I have two others from previous activities and interest. So we will have 10 GPS units when the project starts

Just thought of a cool thing to do at the park. GPS writing, students will have to follow a set of coordinates to write a word out in the park. They wont know what the work will be as they will have to decrypt it using there code sheets at the end. Its makes use of a big space :) YES!

Map of auckland domain, showing tracks :)

Looking at creating a book of things for the students to help them along there journey

A pamplet about geocaching

John campbell episode about geocaching, have email them for permission to use.

general geocaching resources

Monday, 23 November 2009

have been busy

thought about yesterdays post a little more,

there has been all this rush to get the new curriculum sorted out and implemented in the school, though since the beginning of term 4, it all has gone astray. We are now project 72 orientated. I think of all the work I have to do with changing standards, trying to get the junior ICT programme more aligned with technology Achievement Objectives, and yet we are doing all this other stuff.
We are different, because computing is not one of the tight five subjects, english, maths, science, social studies and art. We seem to get left out in the cold. We have had a number of changes come in over the past 9 months, new standards, the dtg starting to take hold and a number of other initiatives, yet do we get any time to implement these. I suppose if english and maths had new standards they would get the time and allowance to deal with it.
Maybe its just our own fault with being so accommodating, or is it that people just don't know what we do.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

have been busy

I don't think management just know how busy we are at the moment.

I spent the first two hours on Friday in a meeting looking at hour senior subjects in our department, most of this meeting was looking at what the various course offer as well as where things are going next year. With the change in standards happening it gave us an opportunity to start looking through them and deciding what to do with these subjects and students. We have also been told to cut the number of classes on offer and this has lead to even more meetings and discussions with other department and a trading of teachers. I still have to write schemes for next year as the standards have changed, as well as what I plan to teach or have been told to teach has changed as well. I am thinking of the barista competition happening again that the students could do an assessment for. Thinking about balance and harmony which are the new in words for design in the standards. But do you think I can find a document which describes these.

I have also been busy getting all of our e-asttle logins and assessments sorted out. We are about to throw 770 students through a e-asttle maths test, which we will be able to compare the results with the one carried out in the first term of school. Issues surrounding this have been the reset of every single year 9 and 10 account. Luckly we didn't have to do this, instead this was handled by the provider of the service, who has not assured me it will be written into the updated code, I don't think he liked reseting all those passwords individually.

We are also playing around with KAMAR's web portal for students, a great addition to what is already a great product. This is on the first step of the SMS-LMS interoperability that we are working on. The product that we are playing with currently is provided by KAMAR, but we are looking at implementing the parent portal from knowledgenet. Playing around we it, we were amazed at he instantness of the updates, and what it will provide students, parents and caregivers. Issues surrounding pastoral care still need to be sorted out. But parents looking at the attendance of their students live could be interesting.
The other part that this has opened up as well is the iphone app. KAMAR have produced an iphone app that means that we can get down to basics. Though at the moment we can only read what is in the system, we cannot put anything in yet. Though I wait with baited breath on when the attendance function will be written so I can get these things out to all the PE staff so attendance can be done live throughout the school.
I have already been onto KAMAR with a couple of bug/features that could be added to both of these systems. I will see what the response is on Monday.

Project 72 is going ahead quite nicely, I have most of the caches setup and ready to go, though will need a couple of days in the city just to finalise day three, the amazing race. though I did not realise how far the ferry was from north head, this may factor into one of the puzzles. Saturday was spent at the auckland domain walking around the cricket players trying to find puzzles and locations for caches to go. 8 need to be planted around the domain for this to work.

I also have reports to write. These are due on Wednesday. I have one class and the form class comments to write up. though I do not think staff realise that 1.3 errors for all the comments for all your reports is where things need to be at. I know myself that even when writing code you get more errors than that.

Where do I find time to do all the stuff that is required of me.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Well the website is now offline, on Monday at 3:30pm it was removed as this was the time students had been told to complete their selections, out of 769 students, 143 did not complete there selections by this time.

Things to look at next time. We have to get a better lead in time, getting the site up and going took the time. The reason for this was waiting on a spreadsheet to get the main information in.
Other things, uplaoding images of the powerpoint slides seemed to fail at almost every upload, these had to be uploaded through the file manager on the website.

I am trying to work out when the site went live. I know students were shown the idea of the project on Wednesday 11 November, in which caused a number of issues, as students were logging in later that day and selecting options, which had to be stopped. 10 students completed their selections based on the test data alone.

keeping studenst up to date on what was happening was needed, so the colour RED showed that the website was offline, ORANGE that website was going live soon, GREEN that the webite was live.

The site went live on Thursday at 11:30am, the students had till monday 3:30pm

Very few changes had to be written for this, just a change of a slide and a change of cost of one of the activities.

Issues surronding this, number of students wanting to do one of the projects, 175 students selected one of the projects, where a number of the other projects had very little students wanting to particpate in. One of the original design specs for this was that when a project reached its number that it would close off and not be available to show again. This needs to happen with next years project based learning.

Another issue is communication, I thought that if I exported a list of students and their selections that this would have been imported into our SMS and groups created and printed from there. No, I had to go through and export all the selections based on select1 and id from the database and print them off to be keyed in by someone else. This was a suprise to me and I was not prepared for it this morning, had I been told what was happening I would have managed to get all the data off last night and emailed through for the person first thing this morning, I had five projects that I had to re-export due to the LIMIT 0,30 that phpmyadmin sets in the SQL field. This caused me a little bit of an issue, once I realised what was happening I retified the problem.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

year 13 webdesign project

I am looking at this as part of a project for my students, to create a website for teh national cycleways project

Trying to find anything about this has been difficult, though through the use of wikipedia, I have manged to find this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Cycleway_Project

which lead me to the governments page


the seven tracks around new zealand have been outlined here


updates about the project, though the first start of work on the waikato trail, which is started today, is not mentioned http://tourism.govt.nz/Our-Work/New-Zealand-Cycleway-Project/Cycleway-Project-Updates/

Released today is the logo for The New Zealand Cycle Trail, does this really reflect the nature of such an important project. I think not. I am looking at what my class will be able to come up with next year as a assessment for my project.

John key unveiled the cycle way logo, which will be used on track signs.

The logo, Nga Haerenga, means "the journeys" and will also be used in offshore marketing.

So do we really want this on all the signage!

Oh no, it just got worse, I found the branding handout... http://tourism.govt.nz/Documents/Policy%20Website/Documents/NZCycleTrail/cycletrailHandoutWeb.pdf two pages of words and the other is just images of the country with the brand over the top.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


UPDATE tabletest SET code=MD5(id)

ie UPDATE tabletest SET dateofbirth=MD5(dateofbirth)

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Our Schools Top 100 Books issued by our school library

Slight issue with the original Number One, this was a prescribed english book, we don't know how this got included in the list.

Rank Loans Title Author


2 15 The village by the sea. [Text Paperback] DESAI, Anita

3 14 Eclipse / [Text Paperback] MEYER, Stephenie

4 13 To kill a mocking bird [Text Paperback] LEE, Harper

5 13 Harry Potter and the half-blood prince ROWLING, J.K.

6 13 Harry Potter and the deathly hallows ROWLING, J.K.

7 13 The big beefy book of Bart Simpson [Text Paperback]

8 13 New Moon [Text Paperback] MEYER, Stephenie

9 12 Anne Frank - the diary of a young girl [Text Paperback]

10 12 Perfect / Kenrick, Joanna.

11 12 Breaking dawn / [Text Paperback] MEYER, Stephenie

12 12 Twilight [Text Paperback] MEYER, Stephenie

13 11 Noughts & crosses [Text Paperback] BLACKMAN, Malorie

14 11 Text game [Text Paperback] CANN, Kate

15 11 Forever [Text Paperback] BLUME, Judy

16 11 My sister Jodie / WILSON, Jacqueline

17 11 Something in the world called love / [Text Paperback] SALIBA, Sue

18 11 The skin I'm in [Text Paperback] FLAKE, Sharon G.

19 11 Lost for words [Text Paperback] LUTZEIER, Elizabeth

20 11 Chinese cinderella and the secret dragon society [Text MAH, Adeline Yen


21 11 Looking for Alibrandi [Text Paperback] MARCHETTA, Melina

22 11 Kiss / [Text Paperback] WILSON, Jacqueline

23 10 Forbidden ground [Text Paperback] LAIRD, Elizabeth

24 10 Fall out [Text Paperback] RUSHTON, Rosie

25 10 Kiss of death [Text Paperback] BUTLER, Charles

26 10 The secret life of bees / [Text Paperback] KIDD, Sue Monk.

27 10 Twilight : the complete illustrated movie companion / [Text VAZ, Mark Cotta


28 10 Chinese Cinderella - the secret story of an unwanted daughter MAH, Adeline Yen

[Text Paperback]

29 10 The kite runner [Text Paperback] HOSSEINI, Khaled

30 10 Sold [Text Paperback] McCORMICK, Patricia

31 10 Love lessons / [Text Paperback] WILSON, Jacqueline

32 10 A thousand splendid suns / [Text Paperback] HOSSEINI, Khaled

33 10 Before I die [Text Paperback] DOWNHAM, Jenny

34 10 Slumdog millionaire Swarup, Vikas.

35 10 The meaning of life : Rachel Riley's (not) doing it diary / Nadin, Joanna.

[Text Paperback]

36 10 Rani & Sukh [Text Paperback] RAI, Bali

37 9 Cry, the beloved country [Text Paperback] PATON, Alan

38 9 Of mice and men [Text Paperback] STEINBECK, John

39 9 Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban ROWLING, J.K.

40 9 Both sides of time [Text Paperback] COONEY, Caroline B.

41 9 The howler [Text Paperback] STINE, R.L.

42 9 My name is evil [Text Paperback] STINE, R.L.

43 9 A child called "It" [Text Paperback] PELZER, Dave

44 9 The boy in the striped pyjamas : a fable / BOYNE, John.

45 9 What's up? / [Text Paperback] RAI, Bali

46 9 Artemis Fowl and the time paradox / [Text Paperback] COLFER, Eoin

47 9 Malice / [Text Paperback] WOODING, Chris

48 9 Claudia and mean Janine : a graphic novel / [Text Paperback] Telgemeier, Raina.

49 9 The whale rider [Text Paperback] IHIMAERA, Witi

50 9 Love story [Text Paperback] SEGAL, Erich

51 9 Keep your hair on! [Text Paperback] VERCOE, Elizabeth

52 9 Girls in love [Text Paperback] WILSON, Jacqueline

53 9 The lovely bones : a novel / [Text Paperback] Sebold, Alice.

54 9 The secrets of love / [Text Paperback] RUSHTON, Rosie

55 9 Tough love [Text Paperback] CASSIDY, Anne

56 9 Skulduggery Pleasant / [Text Paperback] Landy, Derek.

57 9 Blade / [Text Paperback] POWLING, Chris

58 9 Missing you / [Text Paperback] CARROLL, Jenny

59 8 Alex [Text Paperback] DUDER, Tessa

60 8 Memory [Text Paperback] MAHY, Margaret

61 8 Heart of stone [Text Paperback] COOPER, Louise

62 8 The haunted car [Text Paperback] STINE, R.L.

63 8 50 short short stories by young New Zealanders [Text


64 8 Off-side [Text Paperback] OLDFIELD,Jenny

65 8 All change [Text Paperback] RUSHTON, Rosie

66 8 The whale rider [Text Paperback] IHIMAERA, Witi

67 8 The saga of Darren Shan - vampire blood trilogy [Text SHAN, Darren


68 8 The vampire diaries : the awakening [Text Paperback] SMITH L.J.

69 8 My heartbeat [Text Paperback] FREYMANN-WEYR, Garret

70 8 (un)arranged marriage [Text Paperback] RAI, Bali

71 8 The lost boy [Text Paperback] PELZER, Dave

72 8 Knife edge [Text Paperback] BLACKMAN, Malorie

73 8 All American girl : ready or not / [Text Paperback] CABOT, Meg

74 8 Memoirs of a geisha / [Text Paperback] Golden, Arthur.

75 8 The angel experiment / [Text Paperback] PATTERSON, James

76 8 My desperate love diary by Kelly Ann / [Text Paperback] Rettig, Liz.

77 8 Stray / [Text Paperback] BELBIN, David

78 8 Coma [Text Paperback] BELBIN, David

79 8 The two Jacks / [Text Paperback] BRADMAN, Tony

80 8 Buddies / MORGAN, Michaela

81 8 Burnout / [Text Paperback] SWINDELLS, Robert

82 8 Checkmate / [Text Paperback] BLACKMAN, Malorie

83 8 Lock and key : a novel [Text Paperback] DESSEN, Sarah

84 8 Seeing red / [Text Paperback] Lancett, Peter.

85 8 Are you kidding? / [Text Paperback] RAI, Bali

86 8 Summer / [Text Paperback] Crilley, Mark.

87 8 Life on the refrigerator door : a novel in notes / [Text Kuipers, Alice.


88 8 The dead of the night [Text Paperback] MARSDEN, John

89 8 Honey, baby, sweetheart [Text Paperback] CALETTI, Deb

90 8 Vampirates : tide of terror / [Text Paperback] Somper, Justin.

91 8 Don't call me baby / Depp, Laurie.

92 8 Lucy Zeezou's goal / [Text Paperback] Deep-Jones, Liz.

93 8 Missing girl / [Text Paperback] MAZER, Norma Fox

94 8 Ten out of ten / [Text Paperback] CABOT, Meg

95 7 696 silly school jokes and riddles [Text Paperback] ROSENBLOOM, Joseph

96 7 Pride and prejudice [Text Paperback] AUSTEN, Jane

97 7 Persuasion [Text Paperback] AUSTEN, Jane

98 7 Message in a bottle [Text Paperback] SPARKS, Nicholas

99 7 Call it love [Text Paperback] BLACKLOCK, Dyan

100 7 Love and other excuses [Text Paperback] WESTAWAY, Jane

Saturday, 17 October 2009

2010 curriculum ideas, junior secondary school

I have been thinking about our courses, I know that we are looking at skills and development of the technological process, but we are leaving a huge chunk of work out, that we probably need to look at in more detail to make sure that we are creating that all round student.

A great place to start looking at resources is http://www.thegrid.org.nz – It is the netsafe group version of a connected, safe, Responsible student. These are the same things that the new curriculum key competencies are looking for.

The other area that we need to identify and improve students in, is not only technogicial literacy, but also digital literacy;
A nifty digital literacy resource to encourage reflection and stimulate discussion :: http://www.nwlg.org/digitalliteracy/

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

suspending the timetable

We are currently planning to suspend our school timetable for the Year 9 and 10 students. 760 students will be undertaking an activity or activities for three days. This has been discussed for a couple of years and has been of great debate.

I will provide some more parts in this later on, once I get the presentation.

We have been asked to come up with ideas on what could be done by the staff to facilitate this process, and I must say I am surprised. I would say three quarters of the suggestions relate to EOTC, Education Outside The Classroom. Through the use of orienteering, tramps, surfing, and others. Now this raises a question, why are all these for outside the classroom, I would say that staff find it difficult to take students out of the class during school time, though three days in which we are to do various activities brings some light to the somewhat dark and dormant school.

My Idea, so far... is

Get Lost!
I wish to undertake a project of an urban journey. A range of Orienteering, map reading, geocaching, and mobile technology.

I would like to use it as a sort of Wherigo exercise, http://www.Wherigo.com/default.aspx
the reason is that then students can create there own for next years students. If this continues, this will mean that they have to work out various objects that will not move or be changed.

How is this done, students map out a area that they wish to use.
They then create a story to go along with a theme



For a different take on running a wide game, why not try doing an Amazing Race?
It takes quite a lot of organisation but makes an exciting evening without costing too much. Work out a route including public transport (bus train or ferry), use a different method of collecting each new set of instructions, add a couple of challenges and send an adult along with each group.

Some ways to hand out instructions:
  • Map grid points
  • Collect emailed instructions at a net café.
  • Pick them up from an information centre or kindly shopkeeper.
  • Go to page x and line y in the white pages.
  • Challenge the shifty looking person dressed in aqua for your next clue.
  • Sealed envelopes with a code inside.
  • Use tracking signs (if they are unlikely to be disturbed)

Challenges along the way might include:
  • Playing boules or frisbee golf in a park.
  • Collecting scavenger hunt items - a foreign coin, a café napkin, some sand, a native leaf, an autograph, the cost of something, passport photo of the whole team.
  • Solving puzzles.
  • Airhockey or tablesoccer at an entertainment arcade - the whole group to participate
An alternative, though this just lasts one hour...
One hour.
Brain-busting questions.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Literacy in Programming

It's not often that I get to read about programming in a novel. But I have just finished Little Brother by Cory Doctorow and the hero writes some code in the story.
Here is how he talks about programming and I am thinking of using this to introduce a unit on programming.

"If you’ve never programmed a computer, you should. There’s nothing like it in the whole world. When you program a computer it does exactly what you tell it to do. It’s like designing a machine - any machine, like a car, like a faucet, like a gas hinge for a door - using math and instructions. It’s awesome in the truest sense: it can fill you with awe.
A computer is the most complicated machine you’ll ever use. It’s made of billions of microminiaturised transistors that can be configured to run any program you can imagine. But when you sit down at the keyboard and write a line of code, those transistors do what you tell them to.

Most of us will never build a car. Pretty much none of us will ever create an aviation system. Design a building. Lay out a city.

Those are complicated machines, those things, and they’re off-limits to the likes of you and me. But a computer is like, ten times more complicated, and it will dance to any tune you play.
You can learn to write simple code in an afternoon. Start with a language like Python, which was written to give nonprogrammers an easier way to make the machine dance to their tune. Even if you only write code for one day, one afternoon, you have to do it. Computers can control you or they can enlighten your work - if you want to be in charge of your machines, you have to learn to write code."

Cory Doctorow in Little Brother. Pg119-120

Just thought someone else might like it too.


Just got an email from the author asking if he had any other suggestions for young adult reading that discusses or investigates the use of Computers and computing that could go into a reading program along with your great book?

The response...

If you liked this book and want to learn more, there are plenty of sources to turn to, online and at your local library or bookstore.

Hacking is a great subject. All science relies on telling other people what you've done so that they can verify it, learn from it, and improve on it, and hacking is all about that process, so there's plenty published on the subject.

Start with Andrew "Bunnie" Huang's "Hacking the Xbox," (No Starch Press, 2003) a wonderful book that tells the story of how Bunnie, then a student at MIT, reverse-engineered the Xbox's anti-tampering mechanisms and opened the way for all the subsequent cool hacks for the platform. In telling the story, Bunnie has also created a kind of Bible for reverse engineering and hardware hacking.

Bruce Schneier's "Secrets and Lies" (Wiley, 2000) and "Beyond Fear" (Copernicus, 2003) are the definitive lay-person's texts on understanding security and thinking critically about it, while his "Applied Cryptography" (Wiley, 1995) remains the authoritative source for understanding crypto. Bruce maintains an excellent blog and mailing list at schneier.com/blog. Crypto and security are the realm of the talented amateur, and the "cypherpunk" movement is full of kids, home-makers, parents, lawyers, and every other stripe of person, hammering away on security protocols and ciphers.

There are several great magazines devoted to this subject, but the two best ones are 2600: The Hacker Quarterly, which is full of pseudonymous, boasting accounts of hacks accomplished, and O'Reilly's MAKE magazine, which features solid HOWTOs for making your own hardware projects at home.

The online world overflows with material on this subject, of course. Ed Felten and Alex J Halderman's Freedom to Tinker (www.freedom-to-tinker.com) is a blog maintained by two fantastic Princeton engineering profs who write lucidly about security, wiretapping, anti-copying technology and crypto.

Don't miss Natalie Jeremijenko's "Feral Robotics" at UC San Diego (xdesign.ucsd.edu/feralrobots/). Natalie and her students rewire toy robot dogs from Toys R Us and turn them into bad-ass toxic-waste detectors. They unleash them on public parks where big corporations have dumped their waste and demonstrate in media-friendly fashion how toxic the ground is.

Like many of the hacks in this book, the tunneling-over-DNS stuff is real. Dan Kaminsky, a tunneling expert of the first water, published details in 2004 ( www.doxpara.com/bo2004.ppt).
The guru of "citizen journalism" is Dan Gillmor, who is presently running Center for Citizen Media at Harvard and UC Berkeley -- he also wrote a hell of a book on the subject, "We, the Media" (O'Reilly, 2004).

If you want to learn more about hacking arphids, start with Annalee Newitz's Wired Magazine article "The RFID Hacking Underground" (www.wirednews.com/wired/archive/14.05/rfid.html). Adam Greenfield's "Everyware" (New Riders Press, 2006) is a chilling look at the dangers of a world of arphids.
Neal Gershenfeld's Fab Lab at MIT (fab.cba.mit.edu) is hacking out the world's first real, cheap "3D printers" that can pump out any object you can dream of. This is documented in Gershenfeld's excellent book on the subject, "Fab" (Basic Books, 2005).

Bruce Sterling's "Shaping Things" (MIT Press, 2005) shows how arphids and fabs could be used to force companies to build products that don't poison the world.

Speaking of Bruce Sterling, he wrote the first great book on hackers and the law, "The Hacker Crackdown" (Bantam, 1993), which is also the first book published by a major publisher that was released on the Internet at the same time (copies abound; seestuff.mit.edu/hacker/hacker.html for one). It was reading this book that turned me on to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where I was privileged to work for four years.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (www.eff.org) is a charitable membership organization with a student rate. They spend the money that private individuals give them to keep the Internet safe for personal liberty, free speech, due process, and the rest of the Bill of Rights. They're the Internet's most effective freedom fighters, and you can join the struggle just by signing up for their mailing list and writing to your elected officials when they're considering selling you out in the name of fighting terrorism, piracy, the mafia, or whatever bogeyman has caught their attention today. EFF also helps maintain TOR, The Onion Router, which is a real technology you can use right now to get out of your government, school or library's censoring firewall ( tor.eff.org).

EFF has a huge, deep website with amazing information aimed at a general audience, as do the American Civil Liberties Union (aclu.org), Public Knowledge (publicknowledge.org), FreeCulture (freeculture.org), Creative Commons (creativecommons.org) -- all of which also are worthy of your support. FreeCulture is an international student movement that actively recruits kids to found their own local chapters at their high schools and universities. It's a great way to get involved and make a difference.

A lot of websites chronicle the fight for cyberliberties, but few go at it with the verve of Slashdot, "News for Nerds, Stuff That Matters" (slashdot.org).

And of course, you have to visit Wikipedia, the collaborative, net-authored encyclopedia that anyone can edit, with more than 1,000,000 entries in English alone. Wikipedia covers hacking and counterculture in astonishing depth and with amazing, up-to-the-nanosecond currency. One caution: you can't just look at the entries in Wikipedia. It's really important to look at the "History" and "Discussion" links at the top of every Wikipedia page to see how the current version of the truth was arrived at, get an appreciation for the competing points-of-view there, and decide for yourself whom you trust.

If you want to get at some real forbidden knowledge, have a skim around Cryptome (cryptome.org), the world's most amazing archive of secret, suppressed and liberated information. Cryptome's brave publishers collect material that's been pried out of the state by Freedom of Information Act requests or leaked by whistle-blowers and publishes it.
The best fictional account of the history of crypto is, hands-down, Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon (Avon, 2002). Stephenson tells the story of Alan Turing and the Nazi Enigma Machine, turning it into a gripping war-novel that you won't be able to put down.
The Pirate Party mentioned in Little Brother is real and thriving in Sweden ( www.piratpartiet.se), Denmark, the USA and France at the time of this writing (July, 2006). They're a little out-there, but a movement takes all kinds.

Speaking of out-there, Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies did indeed try to levitate the Pentagon, throw money into the stock exchange, and work with a group called the Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers. Abbie Hoffman's classic book on ripping off the system, "Steal This Book," is back in print (Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002) and it's also online as a collaborative wiki for people who want to try to update it ( stealthiswiki.nine9pages.com).

Hoffman's autobiography, "Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture" (also in print from Four Walls Eight Windows) is one of my favorite memoirs ever, even if it is highly fictionalized. Hoffman was an incredible storyteller and had great activist instincts. If you want to know how he really lived his life, though, try Larry Sloman's "Steal This Dream" (Doubleday, 1998).

More counterculture fun: Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" can be had in practically any used bookstore for a buck or two. Allan Ginsberg's "HOWL" is online in many places, and you can hear him read it if you search for the MP3 at archive.org. For bonus points, track down the album "Tenderness Junction" by the Fugs, which includes the audio of Allan Ginsberg and Abbie Hoffman's levitation ceremony at the Pentagon.

This book couldn't have been written if not for George Orwell's magnificent, world-changing "1984," the best novel ever published on how societies go wrong. I read this book when I was 12 and have read it 30 or 40 times since, and every time, I get something new out of it. Orwell was a master of storytelling and was clearly sick over the totalitarian state that emerged in the Soviet Union. 1984 holds up today as a genuinely frightening work of science fiction, and it is one of the novels that literally changed the world. Today, "Orwellian" is synonymous with a state of ubiquitous surveillance, doublethink, and torture.

Many novelists have tackled parts of the story in Little Brother. Daniel Pinkwater's towering comic masterpiece, "Alan Mendelsohn: The Boy From Mars" (presently in print as part of the omnibus "5 Novels," Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997) is a book that every geek needs to read. If you've ever felt like an outcast for being too smart or weird, READ THIS BOOK. It changed my life.

On a more contemporary front, there's Scott Westerfeld's "So Yesterday" (Razorbill, 2004), which follows the adventures of cool hunters and counterculture jammers. Scott and his wife Justine Larbalestier were my partial inspiration to write a book for young adults -- as was Kathe Koja. Thanks, guys.

That should be plenty to get started =)

Who would have through emailing the author would give so much.