• 22 May 2008 /  Parenting, Tech, Work 1 Comment

    National Engineer’s Week is this week and I was asked to do a presentation on software engineering to about 40 local middle school students. I was a bit unsure how to approach this as it’s not the audience I’m used to dealing with. I’ve presented to rooms full of executives before, but I was more nervous about this. I’ll leave the obvious jokes about maturity levels as an exercise for the reader.

    Now that it’s over, I’d say it went very well (thanks to advice from my lovely wife). I was last on the agenda, so the kids were a bit drained and antsy, but I managed to keep them occupied and interested. I had an activity planned in which some volunteers represented parts of a very simple program, a bubble sort. I had them physically act out the operation of the algorithm and when it was completed they could see the results (the volunteers were now in alphabetical order). They were actually enthusiastic about participating in this little exercise, which was probably my biggest fear. It would have gone much differently if I had to drag kids up, or bribe them with the M&Ms that a certain someone suggested I bring. It was inspiring to see some of the kids watch the process, expressing confusion as it wasn’t immediately obvious what was happening, but then as it progressed, they got what was going on. I think they really enjoyed it.

    The blatant pandering of using a screenshot of Super Mario Galaxy and one of the Google map to their school actually resulted in cheers. So I’ll keep that in the toolbox for the future.

    One thing that didn’t work was sarcasm. If you know me, you know how integral that is to my daily life and the kids mostly just didn’t get it. I guess I should have seen that up front, but at least some of the teachers got some chuckles out of it.

    Overall, I really enjoyed the experience, the kids asked a lot of good questions, though several were about salary. I hope they all got something from it.

    Here’s my presentation, if you’d like to see it.


    Posted by Mike @ 2:28 pm

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One Response

  • Meredith Says:

    You’re a natural, Mike. Expect to hear from me next year when we’re planning visits to local schools!

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