XNA, anyone?

Has anyone in the audience tried the XNA toolkit?

As I previously mentioned, I will be challenging my APCS students (now that the exam is done, and they’ve got a few weeks before finals / graduation) to explore the XNA Studio, and come up with SOMEthing creative. With a wide-open definition like that, they will have to track their efforts to justify a grade at the end, but other than that relatively minor inconvenience it means that their creative juices can flow wherever they want. I just finished installing XNA onto the computers in the lab; tomorrow (first period) I’ll lay out the ground rules, and let them loose.

In past years, such carte blanche has  yielded some fairly impressive results: tip calculators, Tetris, Risk, Missile Command, and planetary orbit simulators, to name a few. The students know that they have to impress me, plain and simple, and they usually do.

XNA, of course, might be more than a single student can tackle in a few weeks, so this opens up a new world of collaborative effort. I envision the stronger students taking on the coding, with others working on strategy / logic flows, graphic design / artwork, documentation, and even testing (an often overlooked aspect of any programming project). Hence the reason that I say they will need to document their efforts: a paragraph or two at the end of each period will be all that is necessary. Aside from the tracking purposes, it will also introduce them to the concept of an Engineer’s Notebook, a tool that I personally almost never used in the real world, but others I know (my wife, for example) kept religiously. The record of effort spent will help me assign grades next month, but will also let them organize their thoughts, plan project milestones, brainstorm concepts, … just like a real world job.

Hopefully, as the weeks progress, I’ll have much to talk about.


About Mr. I

After 17 years as a PC Software Engineer I gave it all up in 2000 to become a High School Computer Teacher
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