Posts tagged visitors
For the last month, 6th grade students have been chatting with professionals who use technology on a daily basis. Hopefully you’ve heard some stories about Michael’s (Google engineer) dog-friendly workplace or Emily’s (Cheezburger Network) love of music and reading when in middle school. If not, please ask your student, or visit the tech blog to get an overview (http://www.billingsmiddleschool.org/beta).
Our final guest speaker visited Friday and we had a presentation about how video games have shifted from text-based stories all the way to photo-realistic interactive movies. As always, students asked relevant questions and offered ideas for future products.
Towards the end of the class period our speaker showed off some amazing footage of their current video games. Part of these clips were graphically violent and may be on students’ minds. Some t-shirts and other give-aways were handed out, some of which depict these ads. Here are a few questions you might consider engaging your student with:
What makes video games so much fun to play?
Do you think video games can affect your mood?
Does your body and mind react differently to violence in a video game rather than in a movie?
Does your body and mind react differently to violence in a video game rather than in the real world?
How do you know if you’ve been looking at a computer or tv screen too long?
Our speaker also talked about the need for families to have clear rules about how much game-play is appropriate. His teen has a “1 hour per day” policy, but duration might be dependent on age, personality, exercise, school performance, chore completion, etc.
Does your family have guidelines about gaming systems?
Do you understand the video game rating system ( http://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.jsp)?
Are you familiar with signs of video game addiction ( http://www.video-game-addiction.org/symptoms-computer-addiction-teens.html)?
Do your gaming systems use the internet to connect players to others around the world?
Is gaming a social or private activity at your house? Where is the console or computer located?
Do you have a clear plan for this summer (camps, sleepovers, trips) that creates a balanced environment beyond gaming and/or computing?
Gabe Newell sat down with technology students today to speak about his rise from self-identified nerd to founder and CEO of Valve Software, a gaming and entertainment company with many successful titles including Left for Dead and Half Life.
Gabe showed us the first games he used to play with computers, punchcards and text-based strategy games. He talked about working at a tiny company while in college many years ago (by the name of Microsoft) before starting his own. We got to take a virtual tour of the Valve offices and watched some previews for some of the company games.
We learned about all that goes into making a video game – artwork, sound, a gaming engine, the actual code, and distribution channels. Companies need people with these skills in order to make successful products.
Gabe also talked about the need for families to have rules around how much time is healthy for adolescents to spend gaming per day/week. He likened Valve’s single-player game experiences to an interactive movie – you might watch a movie on the weekend but certainly wouldn’t think to watch movies non-stop from the time you wake up to when you go to bed.
Thank you Gabe for spending so much time with us and sharing your life!
Class 6B were lucky enough to spend a class period with Michael, an engineer from Google who works on the Gmail team. Michael used Google Maps to show a street-view of his middle school in Alabama, and talked about how his life choices resulted in East and West Coast employment through his interest in technology. He shared screenshots of the code he creates everyday and explained how he spends his hours at work communicating with machines and people.
Thank you, Michael!
6th grade students got to spend Thursday afternoon in a Q & A session with Emily Huh, co-owner of the Cheezburger Network. Her company runs 50 blogs dedicated to making people all over the world laugh. The most popular sites are FailBlog (2M+ pageviews per day) and ICanHazCheezburger (1M+ pageviews per day).
Emily shared stories of her days as a middle school students, her interests in reading and music, and her decision to study sociology in college. She told us about day-to-day life at Cheezburger headquarters in Belltown and how the company focuses on trying to make people laugh. Much of the content on the site comes from people who send in funny photos or videos. The company makes money by selling merchandise (t-shirts, stickers, etc) and by advertising space.
Emily also outlined the types of jobs at her company. The Cheezburger Network needs people to manage blogs, handle user photo submissions and more. Employees may have a background as an artist, musician, mathematician, sales person, or any number of interests and work histories. Thank you Emily!
The 6th grade’s tech visitor series concluded today by spending time with Blair, a Seattle freelance designer who has designed and coded for many companies including Nestle, Microsoft, Cadillac and Burger King.
Blair discussed the benefits of working for yourself (he has 2 chickens in his home office!), how being creative can turn into employment (he makes games and then gets hired to put company logos onto them), and how his interest in art and technology has turned into a career.
Blair uses his own website as a showcase for his talents and is also starting his own small business, PillowMob, which is a great example of bringing a creative idea to the marketplace.Billings Middle School thanks Blair for his visit!
Students had a great time today learning from Michael, an coder from Google who works on the Gmail team.
Michael told us about growing up in Alabama and how he first got interested in computers. He said that the 2 subjects he uses most in his job are math (for talking to computers) and language arts (for talking to other people). Some of his favorite things about his company are:
- 1 day a week he gets to work on projects that he is interested in, not just his assignments
- lots of free food
- well-behaved dogs can go to work!
As part of his presentation Michael used 7 Google products: Docs Presentations, Google Maps, Google Charts API, Gmail, Gchat, Google Image Search and the Search Engine.
Students are definitely getting more comfortable with visitor interaction. Each class had tons of suggestions for how to make Gmail better and many questions about life at Google. Some highlights:
- “Is your company friendly with Apple?” – Olivia
- “You should be able to draw pictures for friends in Gmail.” – Augie
- “Shortcuts to add YouTube videos in email.” – Sophia
- “Can you transfer email accounts to/from Gmail?” – Nick R.
- Aranza identified a bug in Gchat that Michael said he will be working to fix.
- Curtis had an idea for an auto-junk address for your account that could filter advertising.
- Lysbeth wants to be able to sign into email with a fingerprint scanner.
- And much much more.
Many thanks to Google’s Michael for his guest lecture today.
Today the 6th grade was honored to spend time with Erin, a Microsoft project manager who came to share her school and work experiences.
Erin spoke about her high school and unviersity career, where she was often one of very few women in a class and how she focused on what she enjoyed and didn’t worry about what other people thought. She is interested in electrical engineering and had internships at Microsoft where she was able to explore her passions. So talked about her role as a project manager – the trips she gets to go on, the new software she gets to play with and all the people she gets to talk with everyday.
Students had lots of interesting comments and questions. Abbey, Isaac & Lysbeth had questions about the upcoming Windows 7 operating system. Ismael asked about using Microsoft & Apple computers harmoniously in the same household. Isaac and Aaron had many specific questions about Erin’s favorite tasks/projects/benefits. Augie was interested in Erin’s current software and Aselya wondered about meeting Bill Gates. Deividas, Sam, Nick S., James, Nicholas, Olivia, Lizzi, Nick R., Sophie & Elijah all engaged with Erin and commented on her stories.
Special thanks to 7th grade parent Bob for setting up this experience!
It’s design week! Students kicked things off by designing clocks that represent the lens that they will be studying “cycles” through.
In the afternoon we were lucky enough to have a visit and presentation by artist Ross Palmer Beecher, who shared some of her recycled artwork and talked about how Americana and politics play a part in her creativity.