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Brian Scarbeau Insights from a seasoned Computer Science Trainer

There is always some time left after the AP exam to teach our students more before we leave them for the summer. In Florida, we have a couple of weeks to learn more and if you’re from different parts of the country you may have even more time to teach students something new.


I am really sold on having students learn about creating games so that’s what I’ll be doing with my students.  There are several options available for you to do with your students and several languages to use as well.


If you want your students to continue to learn about JAVA then there are two game opportunities that are pretty good. One is robocode which I’ve used with students in past years. Robocode is a fighting game with robots. The Robocode's battles take place in an arena, where small automated 6-wheeled robots fight it out until only one is left.  You can compete with individual robots or with a team of robots. Students create their own robot and code the robot to survive in the battlefield.


The other game is a space invader game.  This tutorial comes with all the sprites and sounds to create this game with some good instructions on advanced JAVA concepts that are not covered in the AP course.

Another good project is in J# and it’s called Hunt the Wombat.  You can have your students learn a different IDE and they can experience intellisense when they code.


Hunt for the Wombat is a 4-6 week project designed to give AP Computer Science students the opportunity to apply their programming skills, gain broader awareness and understanding of the software development process and have fun along the way. By participating in a "real world" scenario where they build a computer game, students can gain experience with project teams, methodologies and core development phases: Discovery, Design, Development and Deployment.


There’s opportunities for your students to use their Visual Basic.NET skills by working with the Black Jack Card Game The Card Game Starter Kit is a fully-functional blackjack card game. It contains a reusable framework for building your own custom card games!


For C# fans there is Space Blitz  by Andy Dunn from Zbuffer Games. Andy is a Microsoft MVP and I was fortunate to have lunch with him and new Microsoft MVP Bill Reiss at the Microsoft Summit last month in Seattle.  Space Blitz  has a video to download as well as a 2d Primer.


There is also rocket commander. The Rocket Commander tutorials will show you how you can create visually stunning 3D games in a series of 30-minute videos.


If you want your students to get really excited then you can introduce them to XNA game express. Why? Because the games that they learn how to create can be deployed on their xbox at home and with the xbox creator club, the game can be shared with friends.


XNA is based on Visual C# Express Edition and allows you to create games for both Windows PC’s and the Xbox 360. XNA Game Studio Express contains the following:

  • The XNA Framework, a set of managed code development libraries that make it possible for game developers to be more productive when creating games for Windows and the Xbox 360.
  • The XNA Framework Content Pipeline, which is a set of tools that allow developers to more easily incorporate 3D content into their games.
  • XNA Game Studio Express also contains a full set of documentation, how-tos, and starter kits that demonstrate how best to use the content pipeline and XNA Framework.

 XNA comes with a starter kit called Space war. Students can bring in their xbox controller and connect to a pc and view the code to see how the game is created. They can modify the game as well to make things run faster, slower etc.



All in all, there is plenty of material available for your students to have FUN! Why not, they deserve it after studying hard for the AP Computer Science Exam.





Posted on Thursday, April 12, 2007 7:34 AM Teaching with ASP.NET , Teaching AP CS , Celebrate Computer Science Education , XNA Programming | Back to top

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