Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Software Development Examples by Students

Want to continue recognizing the amazing work our students do when given the tools, skills and confidence to be creators.

Computer Programming & Software Development
Some very intricate, original software/applications were designed by students who were both empowered and motivated. I truly believe all students are capable of such provided that they have been given the opportunity to witness the possibilities and a person to teach them how to realize their creative desires and interests. Each of the examples below were packaged into executables to be distributed as software.

ALL of these examples were programmed by students!

JavaTale (inspired by Undertale. Created by Seniors.)

Hearts (Fully functional card game with artificial intelligence. Created by Sophomores)

Pseudo-Artificial Intelligence Simulation (Created by Seniors)

Pokemon Game (Created by Sophomores/Juniors)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Experience with Adult Learners...

It's been a while since my last post. Life seems to get a little too busy at times.

Recently completed an evening instruction term teaching adults how to program in Java and introducing very basic principles of software development. My assessment of the experience? Fantastic! It always helps to have really patient and motivated adult learners as students. Fantastic group! The students ranged from blue collar to technical writers. I love teaching adults!

I continue to develop the curriculum for my Introduction to Java and Software Development course. This recent experience has inspired me to be a little more ambitious and introduce concepts earlier. I am also very happy that the introduction of GUIs earlier in the curriculum worked so well. GUI programming truly brings greater enthusiasm for programming.

For the Spring session, I will introduce a more streamlined method for students to organize their programs AND a new GUI based application that is capable of reading strings. I am convinced it will be a 'wow' moment for the students.

I will also be teaching a similar course to my high school students, but recent observations lead me to believe that I will need to be a little more deliberate. Most of the students are freshmen and they do not have strong analytical, problem solving skills.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Algorithm Design

I will place more emphasis in algorithm design & practice. Regardless of what language one uses to program, algorithm design, patterns, are important. Such an emphasis will help students to think and program more efficiently, analytically and deliberately. This will go a long way to helping alleviate frustrations that some students have despite knowing the syntax and reinforce the skills of stronger students. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Teaching Technology to Elder Citizens

Just completed our school's second year of Teaching Technology. The 1-week community service event is culmination of planning and organizing that begins at the beginning of the school year. I have been the organizer and facilitator. The event allows our students to go directly into a local senior community center and provide desperately needed tech advice, instruction to the elder population who are often given devices (smartphone, tablets, computers, internet safety, etc.) that they have not been adequately trained to use effectively.

The experience goes beyond simply providing tech training, but it is also an opportunity to develop relationships and extend compassion and patience to a population far too often neglected or ignored. It is my goal to remain in such a capacity as long as possible. It is an incredibly rewarding and valuable way to give back to our community.

Of course, the down-side is that such programs/partnerships are not available enough or sustained long enough to offset the real needs.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Florida Shine 3D Print Contest Winner!

One of my animation students placed 3rd in a 3D-print contest open to students in the state of Florida. Congratulations!

The image below are two prints of the seahorse modeled and sculpted in Cinema 4D and printed using a Polar3D printer. 
A glow-in-the-dark PLA filament was used, but details are better seen using something darker. But it glows, so cool! The student who created this model is an artist. She is very talented and possesses a strong, traditional art background. She learned enough of Cinema 4D within days to be able to create this seahorse. It was simply awesome watching her create this. Fantastic!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Making life science tangible: 3D-Printing...

As part of my efforts to revamp my Life Sciences philosophy/practices, incorporating STEAM will be indispensable. One element of that effort is to introduce 3D-printing & fabrication in order to create manipulatives/models.   This, of course, will also involve instructing & training the students to use 3D modeling applications that will allow them to create detailed models. I am currently favoring Maxon Cinema 4D as the ideal application, but will be fine with the free & versatile, Blender. Sculptris is also a wonderful additional sculpting tool that will be introduced to 'supplement' Cinema 4D and Blender's native sculpting features. Here are a couple of examples of printed models recently completed.

The time-lapsed video of the human heart. The actual print was approximately 8-hours. The dimensions are 4 in x 3 in x 2 in. Glow-in-the-dark PLA was used. 

Skull print using blue PLA. Sandpaper would be an effective option to smooth the surface.

Below, is a print of the hemoglobin protein. Each dimer was printed in a different color. ADB files can be downloaded from the RCSB Protein Database and/or the World Wide Protein Database. Students will be taught, as part of the programming component of the biology course, to program a modest bio-informatics [bioJava] program capable of, among other functions, visualizing organic molecules in 3D, virtual model. Ultimately, that data will be used to create a data cloud of vertices -> surfaces, to be printed using a 3D printer.

An exciting art-credit elective for biology/life science-minded students would be a [3D]Biomedical Illustration/Imaging course. The course will require students to utilize their fine-arts skills and produce beautiful 3D models, animations/simulations and sketches involving biological concepts, systems and/or organisms. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Caenorhabditis elegans...'elegant' worm

Going back to my research days...

Will introduce a very popular research model C. elegans to future biology students. C. elegans is a tiny, non-parasitic, round word approximately 1mm in length often used as a biology research model. The round worm is a common worm found in the soil, vegetative, decaying debris, etc. I would like to introduce the organism as a subject for research and biology instruction. The worms would also serve as a wonderful subject to observe life cycles, physiology and behavior. The worm is transparent under ideal conditions and activities such as feeding, physiology can be readily observed. An important objective is to create the adequate environment (vegetative compost) to encourage the worms to inhabit the compost. Students will learn to isolate and collect the worms for observation/study to be later returned to the environment.  

Worm Classroom
Worm Atlas

My current goal involving this lovely worm is to 3D model and animate it. Should be fun. As mentioned in earlier post, I would like to incorporate STEAM principles into a biology course. Some programming and art/design will be included. I am particularly interested in teaching my students how to 3D model their biology subjects and perhaps provide the opportunity to 3D print them.