Monday, May 6, 2013

Computer Science Movies

I posted this on Twitter yesterday, and got a rather heated response.

Can you recommend any good movies for high school computer science classes?
War Games

Whew, I just expected a few Pixar movies and that was that. What I got instead was, well, frankly a bit grumpy. And also spot on.

I personally don't do movie days often. The time we have the kids in the lab and are able to really get them engaged is pretty limited and I want them creating, not watching, as much as possible. This means that whole class periods where we "watch" a movie is out- and we all know the kids are usually napping or on their cell phones anyway. Of course you can make them fill out a worksheet as they watch, but nothing kills joy like a worksheet.

I do use movies and videos. For example in my intro class we do a big movie project where the kids create a stop animation movies, including chroma-key-compositing, using Visual Basic. To get them excited we watch some short films, and selections from Avatar.

We do a lot of Ted Talks, especially in the APCS Principles class, as writing prompts.

But my focus most of the time is hands on activities where the kids are engaged and making things.

One interesting answer on the Twitter feed was to watch movies themed around ethical computer use - like War Games. I love the idea of using a movie to hit this sometimes hard to explore topic.

Now all that said, Most years I end up having my APCS and IBCS kids the afternoon after they take their exams. And we watch a movie. And eat popcorn.

So, what movies would you recommend?

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So, what do YOU think?