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Tech Creators: Pat Yongpradit Computer Science Teacher

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Pat Yongpradit HeadshotReviewer: Pat Yongpradit

Position: Computer Science Teacher

District/School: Montgomery County Public Schools, Springbrook High School, MD

Number of Students in District/School: ~140,000 , ~1,700

Products: Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, XNA Game Studio, Windows Phone Developer Tools, Windows Phone 7 phones

Goals:

Windows-phone-7-front I want to develop students into creators of the technology they use, not merely users. Students with various programming backgrounds learned and applied computer science concepts to create video games and applications that address social causes. Some students have even put their programs on the Windows Phone 7. XNA Game Studio, packaged with the Windows Phone Developer tools, is a framework written in the C# programming language and edited in the Microsoft Visual Studio environment. These software tools allow students to create games and applications for Windows Phone 7 hardware.

Response:

Everyone loves it!  Parents are grateful to see their kids engaged wholeheartedly in school projects. Administrators love the real-world emphasis, and board members have invited us to speak about the projects at conferences. Students really see that their work can have an impact outside of school. In two years we have doubled the number of introductory and Advanced Placement Computer Science courses.

Learning Curve:

We already teach Java in Introductory and Advanced Placement Computer Science at Springbrook, so transitioning to a similar programming language like C# was easy.  We used a lot of the curriculum Microsoft provides and kids found the video tutorials very helpful.  The school and district administration has been very supportive and our school’s technology support specialist has been flexible in installing the software on the network.

How We Use It:

We create games and applications for the Microsoft Imagine Cup, a worldwide student technology competition centered around creating technology to address the UN Millennium Development Goals. One group of students made a maternal health game in which a young man must come to the aid of mothers in his village by bringing them medicine, food, and transporting them to the hospital.  Videos of games created by the students can be found here.

Reviewer’s Notes:

Video game creation develops computer programming technique, communication and collaboration among different roles, and allows students to create a real product that they can be excited to show their peers. 

What’s Ahead?:

More curricula need to be written to address higher-level computer science topics, to allow students to continue advanced computer science studies while creating fun games. A local step is to spread the message around my immediate district and provide professional development for teachers who are interested.  There is already a cohort of teachers around the nation who are working with XNA Game Studio.

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