January 23, 2004

Cute Slashdot comment!

January 23, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized


Re:Assembly. (Score:4, Interesting)
by laird (2705) on Thursday January 22, @03:03AM (#8052679)
(Last Journal: Monday April 07, @07:39AM)
I used to teach kids programming (at the Computer Ed summer camps in Boston) and I had kids programming in all sorts of crazy languages. I think that it’s wonderful what kids can achieve when they’re excited about learning.

A few random pleasant memories:
– I was teaching a little girl to program in C. She was pretty good, given that we were using pretty primal tools (I think it was Turbo C on my Osborne Executive). The best part was that she was so tiny that she had to reach _way_ up to hold my hand when we crossed the street that ran through the camp. That just blew my mind — one minute this brilliant kid was coding a sort routine in C, and the next she was a timid little girl holding my hand crossing the street.
– I had a whole gang of kids using the Lisp built into the BBC Micro (Acorn?). We had great fun writing an adventure game with a simple parser, so that kids could move around a simple network of rooms, pick stuff up and move it around and drop it. Some of the older kids implemented locking and unlocking doors. Pretty good for a two week, one hour a day course.
– A bunch of the older kids learned 6502 assembler on the Apple ][, using a simple assembler and the ROM debugger. Unlike the x86’s, the 6502 is so simple to program (very clean design) that by the end of the class some of the kids were reading the binary straight rather than disassembling it. We wrote killer video games — they had snakes running around the screen, gobbling “apples” and growing longer, until you hit a wall and the game ended. That was two weeks at 2 hours a day, so it was only for the most dedicated little geeks.
– Programming Robot Wars — that was a very simple assembly language that controlled simulated robots. They loved coding their robots and seeing whose robot won. The modern robot simulators are superior in every way (e.g. alphaworks’ Robocode [ibm.com], but Robot Wars was nice and simple and fun.
– Logo, of course. It’s an amazing language. People usually think of it as a simple language for teaching, and it’s great for that, but it’s actually nearly identical to Lisp, so you can do all of the cool recursion, etc., in Logo. The usual stages of the day were Logo for little kids, then BASIC, then Pascal for the advanced students. I found that kids that went straight from Logo to Pascal did 100% better than the kids who were taught BASIC — the BASIC kids had so many stupid ideals drilled into them that they were almost incapable of programming. But straight from Logo to Pascal was easy — though the kids did complain about having to wait for things to compile. :-)
– Logo turtles — the ones that were little robots that ran around on the floor, with a pen and an optical sensor. Those were fun…

Man, that was fun. I’ve got to get back into teaching.

Man, I _really_ have to get into teaching kids how to program…

Cool keyboards and mice

January 23, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized


Comments say that the article wasn’t very useful, though.

Tales from under my desk

January 23, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I’m hiding under my desk with a large box of assorted candies and a
laptop. It had been a particularly tiring CS21A session, with my
carefully prepared string exercises mysteriously unreachable – proxy
problems? host problems? – and… well… a student with a
surprisingly poor grasp of the subject matter, which made me feel bad
as a teacher – which is, once again, why I’m hiding under my desk. It
feels nice here.

I must remember that the discipline of problem-solving and the
structured logic of computer science do not come easily to other
people. I hear the frustration and shame in my students’ voices as
they try to write the programs I ask them to do far more often than I
hear their exultation. With a sequence of exercises I strive to lead
him to the realization that loops are simply a way to repeat code
conveniently, to help them make it a part of they vocabulary.
Sometimes I feel like Anne Sullivan to stubborn Helen Kellers,
patiently repeating ignored hand-gestures while waiting for that one
spark of genius that will help them unlock their world.

I arranged my exercises in terms of difficulty, but I need even
simpler exercises to help them build confidence. I want so much to
make them see, to make them understand – but I must guide them slowly
and with questions so that this logic becomes an inseparable part of
them, not just something given to them to study now and forget later.
I want them to have a sense of control and accomplishment.

I want to unfold them, find the core of the problems that prevent them
from learning, stretch them, challenge them, transform them – but oh,
how difficult it is to even find a sequence that will be challenging
and yet at the same time encouraging! How much easier it would be to
not care, perhaps, or at least not bend to each person’s needs – to
let people sink or swim according to their own efforts. How easy it
would be to just say that oh, perhaps a student is not meant for a
certain course. I would perhaps be doing a greater service to that
person’s potential classmates and coworkers if I failed a student who
did not show potential. Yet such reflects on me, too. Perhaps it is a
conceit to think that I can reach even those whom most think are

I lack so much as a teacher. I love crafting exercises to guide people
along a path. I love finding out where a person is and trying to form
a personal study plan to help. I tutor, I mentor, I question, I
challenge. Do I teach? Rarely. I think of this as trying to help
people learn. Perhaps I’m meant to be more of a guide, more of a

I love spending time with people and helping them understand
something. My CS21B class is incredible to watch – the people who had
such a hard time during the first semester seem to have caught up and
are doing quite well, and that helps me believe that it’s worth it. It
must be worth it, must be worth times like this…

BPI Science Award reunion

January 23, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

– video about BPI Science Award 2004
– speech including Road Not Taken
– short video about the BPI foundation

Ryan, BS Computer Engineering. How did it feel when you first found out that you were going to be a BPI Science Awardee? Siyempre, excited. Publicity. Most of the awardees came from EE, so pressured. What’s life like after the BPI Science Award? Lots of opportunities. Working for BPI.

Cattleya Catahan, UP Diliman. Computer science, 1997! Life after BPI –
BPI, romantic (met husband at BPI). What has kept you busy? Little
girl. Working for BPI, corporate planning. Related to field. Able to pursue interest in science.

Lilibeth, graduated from Xavier. BS Biology. Also with BPI. Dagupan
Loans Administration Unit. Name one technological advancement that you
wished you discovered. “I always wanted to come up with something so
that scuba divers don’t have to wear the tanks when they dive. That was one of my illusions.” “It’s never too late. Who knows?”

Then me.

Jonathan, BS Computer Engineering in 1995 from Ateneo, but also Chem.
Also from BPI. Chat about kids. Wants to be a mission scientist at

Abelyn, UST. BS Computer Science, 2003. NEC Telecom Software. Software
Design Engineer. Name one technological advancement you wished you’d discovered. “I wish I had discovered the Internet.”

(Interestingly high incidence of computer people… =) )

Distinguished guest. Introduction by VP of BPI. “Tonight, we’re privileged to have our guest speaker who has been always with us as a partner of BPI foundation. She is also one of the most active allies … Department of Science and Technology, first woman with DOST portfolio, grad of UP Diliman. MS PhD Chemical Engineering Rice University. DOST undersec for R and D. Food-related publications and researches. Guest speaker: DOST Secretary Dr. Estrella Alabastro”

Good evening. Let me first greet the BPI Foundation officials, my
former colleagues from UP, my friends from the other universities, the
awardees from past and present, guests… Commend and express
appreciation for the BPI Foundation programs in the other areas
explained by the video – education, microenterprise development, basic
services and others. worthwhile projects and activities with
far-reaching consequences. annual bpi science awards is one such
project as it draws attention to importance of human resources in s&t.
knowledge-based economy. every year, the bpi science awards recognizes
30 students in 10 universities around the country… over 400
students. doors of opportunities opened up to them by the science
awards. delighted to be in the company of country’s most promising
minds. math, physics, engg, chem, bio, cs. give generously of time and
expertise in prepping nation for uncertainties of knowledge-driven
global economy. we need more people like you, frontlines of research
and scholarship. imaginatively and logically. working with one
another. harness technology. closing, thank partners for successful
implementation of this project for the past fifteen years. rewarding
those who have displayed aptitude… according due recognition to the
fundamental role of human resources in propelling the nation forward.
to our awardees, may… inspired to put s and t to work … brighter

bpi senior vp presents token of appreciation to guest speaker

bpi card edge advertisement on video screen. a bit slow-paced.

Ran into Ryan who competed in the Trend Micro Internet Software
Contest 2001. Said we had fantastic marketing.

Academe. Ateneo de Manila University. Dr. Jumela Sarmiento. Good
evening everyone. I’m going to read a message from Dr. Fabian Dayrit.
He is now in Osaka, Japan, attending a winter school. On behalf of
SOSE, I wish to extend my warmest greetings and congrats to BPI on
anniv. Mark of success when award becomes tradition. BPI Science Award
has become tradition and benchmark. The BPI Science Award has become
one of the indicators of success among our students. Must not lose
sight of our ultimate goal, advancement of society through s and t.
There is still so much that has to be done as we struggle to keep up
with our neighbors. Exponential growth. A simple linear growth means
that we will likely fall behind. Hope that BPI will continue to expand
its efforts to encourage our science and engineering students. thanks
and more power.

DLSU. Agnes Yuhico. (Any relation to Pisay teacher?) Fruits of our
labor. Reassured that we did the right thing. Great minds, young
minds, full of hope and promise for our country. On behalf of DLSU,
thank BPI for 15 wonderful years of partnership. honor to partner with
you for the next decades to come.

St. Louis University. Dr. Gaudelia Reyes. honor for our uni to be chosen as one
of the leading universities for training our students in science and
engineering. three awardees every year for this BPI Science Awards. We
believe that this is an affirmation of the role of educational
institutions in training the youth for nation-building. trust and
confidence of bpi in these edu inst and the youth as the hope of our
fatherland. our students look forward to these awards every year. the
past awardees are now participating in nation-building as (list of
fields) and higher education. we therefore take this opportunity to
thank BPI for its smartest investment yet.

UPD. Dr. Azanza. The BPI Science Awards being handled by the BPI
Foundation has one thing in common with the college of science in
Diliman – the tradition of excellence. partners of 15 years now.
promoting excellence in science and technology, education, research
and public service. like to express congratulations and appreciation.
we hope that the bpi science awards will continue for more years and
we can come up with more R&D projects beyond these.

UPLB. Dr. Ernesto Carpio. Secretary Alabastro, executives of BPI
Science Awards, 2004 awardees, and alumni. una, nais kong pasalamatan
ang BPI for its continuing commitment to support and encourage
outstanding academic achievement in the fields of science and tech.
established mechanism of awarding its students. awarded already before
BPI science award. But I believe the BPI science award has a deeper
meaning – way of the society itself recognizing the achievements of
these very young minds. reminding you (all the current awardees and
alumni). wherever you go, please do not forget our Philippines.

UST. Dr. Fortunato Sevilla III. greatly appreciate the generosity and
kindness of the bpi for giving us this opportunity to … motivate our
good students to do better. incentive also for us in the university to
develop our students better. importance given to the research work
they had done, not merely recognizing academic performance, but also
the research activities. very helpful in inspiring them to do more.
excellence. the development of excellence. money.

band: silk and steel