Today's Hardware Friday's post is all about a new book from Microsoft Research, Visual Basic and some Fez...
NET Gadgeteer can be used to develop core programming skills that are needed when studying Computer Science at school. It also is an ideal platform for working on creative and collaborative projects.
This book has lots of exercises to develop programming skills as well as the excitement of making real things with Gadgeteer! Included are instructions for 10 projects including a burglar alarm, traffic lights, stop watch, binary counter, reaction game and morse code generator. The materials have been written for students from 14-19 learning to program in Visual Basic from scratch, but could be used with a younger age group with teacher support.
Go to Answers to the exercises
Here's some snips and snaps from the PDF;
Computer programming can be fun! This book on Visual Basic and .NET Gadgeteer shows how. Aimed at high school students and first-time programmers, the authors use a combination of hardware and software to make programming come alive - audibly, visually, and tangibly. Using small hardware components - a standalone processor, simple sensors and actuators - students build their own little computers in hardware and then program them to do fun things, such as play music (Chapter 3), blink lights (Chapter 6), or draw pictures (Chapter 10). By the end of the book, students have learned all the basics of programming: variables, basic data types, arrays, conditionals, iteration, procedures, and functions. More importantly, they learn a fundamental “computational thinking” concept - modularity. From the very first exercise, students become engaged through the tactile experience of assembling hardware components together to build real devices which they program through standard interfaces, protocols, and built-in libraries. Without a lot of fuss, the authors teach these concepts using the widely-adopted Visual Studio software development tool, exposing students to a modern programming environment that supports the engineering cycle of design, build, test, and debug. At the same time, students naturally assimilate a better understanding of how electronic devices work and how they are made, valuable skills in our increasingly digital lives.
OBJECTIVES OF THIS BOOK
This book is intended for school students and others learning to program in Visual Basic. It assumes no prior knowledge of programming, electronics, Visual Basic or the Visual Studio environment. Programming concepts are introduced and explained throughout the book. Each chapter is structured in a similar way: firstly a new concept to be learned is introduced, secondly there is a step-by-step tutorial on how to develop a simple example in Gadgeteer which uses that concept, and finally a set of exercises is given which enable the reader to practice the main points. This last step is the most important: when learning to program, practicing new programing skills is crucial! Answers to all the exercises are available at http://gadgeteering.net.
This book is based on the Fez Cerberus Tinker Kit made by GHI Electronics, which is a good value-for-money .NET Gadgeteer kit produced specifically for education.
If Santa were to bring you, err, um, I mean, um, your kids, one of these kits, this book will help keep them out of your hair, err, um, I mean, um, busy, for a good bit of the coming holiday break!