Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Thinking again

As I sit here after celebrating christmas, I start to think of the 365 days till christmas. Yes, not too long to go. With some more weeks of holidays, then the beginning of the school year. It soon turns into the end of the school year pretty quickly.

I have been thinking over the last couple of days about the courses that I run and what I want to students to get out of them. Or should that be that the students want credits out of the courses that I run, oh and they want endorsements, and they want to do little work, oh did I mention that they have 6 subjects.

Typical course for your bright student, wants to go to university?

English = 19 credits
Maths with Calculus = 23 credits
Biology = 22 credits
Chemistry = 28 credits?
Physics = 23 credits
Religious Education/Theology = 18 credits

133 credits... that is twice what the students need to obtain to receive there NCEA Level 3...

So... why?

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Zombie Simulation at Boy Scout Jamboree: Bioinformatics At Work

how would you even start developing something like this?

The 2013 Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree – a great place to celebrate scouting and… get virtually infected by a zombie virus? This year’s Jamboree includes an activity designed to teach kids about the movement of infectious diseases. What better way, than to allow them to simulate a zombie epidemic?

Zombie Virus Game

How does it work? Scouts must have a Virus Tracker app downloaded in order to play, and they must register with the game in order to be ‘infected’ with the virus. Dr. Kristy Collins of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech explained the game to Decoded Science, saying that the zombies, ages 12 to 18, “…are given an opportunity to receive the needed vaccine by correctly answering an epidemiology quiz question, or by using the app to scan other players who have already obtained the vaccine.
Throughout the day, notifications are sent out to announce “newly discovered” mutations, which will turn the vaccinated players into Zombies if they do not obtain an updated vaccine. (Players can again obtain the needed vaccine by correctly answering an epidemiology quiz question, or by interacting with others who have already obtained the latest vaccine. There is also a resident scientist at the VBI tent, who will dispense the vaccine to those who ask good science questions.)
Individual and Team points are earned through recruiting others to join the game, and by scanning others with the virus and vaccinating them. Overall standings, individual and team rankings, and a variety of individual, team and game statistics can be viewed at any time.”
How do the players infect other kids? By scanning the code printed on a the scout’s address label, wrapped on his lanyard or scan the other child’s QR code, displayed in his Virus Tracker app. Dr. Collins tells us, “Players with labels can also vaccinate each other by visiting one of the multiple scanning booths that we have at the Jamboree.

Infectious Disease and Bioinformatics

The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute Booth, the source of the zombie virus, is the result of funding from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health MIDAS group and Virginia Bioinformatics Institute. According to Dr. Collins, “The information we are collecting from the scouts is being used in simulations on how infectious diseases spread.
Why is it important to simulate the spread of infectious diseases? Understanding the way in which a highly-contagious disease spreads among groups of people can help reduce the affect, by identifying at-risk populations and encouraging safe behavior as a preventative measure. One major obstacle is the sheer volume of data available, but computer algorithms can sort the data with ease, once given an appropriate sorting structure.
Using computers to sort and make sense of biological information has been around for yea. Not only does Google keep a regularly-updated Flu Trends Map every flu season, with fast and accurate information about the spread of the flu around the nation, researchers are also using Twitter and other social media signals to track flu symptoms to determine the spread of disease. With vast stores of information available online, only a computer could make sense of it all.
Of course there are no real zombies, but using the popular topic to teach kids about disease can increase interest, and spread information as well as a virtual virus.
Virginia Bioinformatics Institute. Virus Tracker. (2013). Accessed July 19, 2013.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Where are we at?

I started thinking after an interesting post the other night, what are we getting our students to do in our classes, "the number of ICT projects I have seen from year 13s that are clearly year 9 work" What happens at the senior level, why is this the case?

There are 340 secondary schools throughout the country, what are we seeing that is showing the best from these schools? 

Friday, 13 December 2013

What are others doing?

Earlier this year the UK released details about what they were doing to support Primary Schools

Monday, 9 December 2013

NCEA Level 2 Canterbury Summer School

NCEA Level 2 Canterbury Summer School
The Ministry of Education is supporting a pilot summer school programme based at Hagley Community College which begins on January 20. Summer school is aimed at students who require about 8 credits (or one or two standards) to gain a Level 2 NCEA certificate.

This is a fantastic idea.. would be interesting to see how many take up the offer.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

coding and cs4hs

Reflection of last week.

Last week I have some awesome opportunities, to try some of the hour of code tutorials with year 9 and the annual google funded cs4hs was in town.

This year was the third cs4hs held in Christchurch, this is now getting to be an almost unmissable event for any Digital Technologies teacher in New Zealand. It provides an excellent array of practical tutorials and workshops through to discussion around the x.44 computer science standards. 

I myself was not able to attend full day sessions this year as I had Big Days Out at school. Where we suspend the timetable and give the junior students an experience. This year for me it was coding. I developed coding based on the hour of code tutorials.

It went like this video
Algorithms, My robotics friends,
Data representation,
Processing, programming language for visual artists
artificial intelligence, a taste of python,
code combat

This gave the students an ideal introduction to what is in the programming and computer science standards at the senior levels.

What did the teachers get out of cs4hs and what will they do for next year

Learn python
  • do 3.44
  • Review database plans
  • do python
  • introduce cs 1.44
  • have a go with 3.44
  • To look at level 2 and 3 computer science, support what they are doing.
  • Programming and digital media combined, with javascript, code avengers
  • Fun things for year 10
  • waterfall process for planning, development, depth. Rather than just in time agile.
  • industry visits
  • Jane whyte method, preparation
  • level 3 course to be more graphic orientated, computer graphics
  • do the edem626 course
  • cs externals and work together to develop, 
  • develop a cluster of teachers
  • javascript into level 2
  • formalise coding club, digital badges, 
  • edem626 course 
  • not doubling up on work, using other work to deliver
  • ready for level 3 programming
  • using databases for one standard and doing regular expressions on the standard to show evidence - practical application.
  • getting network protocols chapter sorted to build on top of the infrastructure standard

What questions still need answering
  • Computer clubs to get stronger, dynamic, connected to each other
  • How can I get capable students work placement, get out of the school
  • Rural is an issue..
  • Tour through leading companies
  • Sponsor some students to experience companies through google
  • NZOI New Zealand Infomatic Olympiad (STAR funding)
  • Catalyst High School Academy
  • Codeavengers
  • mashup
  • Ministry of Awesome
  • How do I encourage the students to come to digital technologies, when it was easy, but now it is hard.
  • Credit values for work… This is a new subject, new to the area, we are doing too much for the work…
  • Resources that show achieved, merit, excellence. 
  • Each of the sections and what they got 1.44, 2.44
  • how would a video presentation be shown…
  • 1.44 why is only 3 credits not 4, doesn’t help with endorsement(14 credits),
  • Is there such as things as an IT labourer, what does the non IT professional look like?
  • IT Labourer, installation, infrastructure, training and support?
  • Developing a range of courses

Friday, 6 December 2013

Database tutorials

I have been trying to find some decent database tutorials to get my students to have more examples of practice. I was introduced this one yesterday.

Great ideas and a great webpage that gets students working through developing their understanding.