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The Fun with Ada Project

One good way to increase the use of Ada is to increase the number of Ada programmers. A good way to do that is to make programming fun. John McCormick has demonstrated that the use of model trains to teach real-time systems works at the university level. The students had so much fun getting their model railroads to work and enhancing their systems, that they continued to work on their systems even after they received their grades. They even got friends who were not registered for the course to come along and help.

The goal of the "Fun with Ada" project is to provide a focal point for individuals and Ada user's groups or SIGAda chapters around the world to share their ideas and work. The objective being to make it easier to implement similar laboratories for teaching and learning about real-time control systems in different locations.

A few years ago I started to work with Eleanor Roosevelt High School (a science & technology showcase school) near NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, MD USA where I worked at the time. When I transferred to CSC's Shady Grove facility, the project folded. Now that I'm working closer to home in a more flexible job, I'd like to resurrect the project.

They’re several high schools nearby Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab located in Laurel/Columbia MD:
Laurel High School (PG county), Hammond, Athelton, & Centennial (Howard county). In Montgomery County
and Fairfax counties there are also science & technology schools. There may be others near where you live or work that you might adopt. I'm looking for enthusiastic volunteers who would like to help me get "Real-Time Software Engineering" (using Ada of course) into one or more area high schools.

The concept is to use interesting "toys" such as those demonstrated at various SIGAda conferences.
For example, model railroads, model cars, blimps, robot hands, road warrior robot, etc. that will capture the interest of teens (especially the technical types). The project is currently in the planning phase.

The following URL's should be helpful:
LEGO's official site

LEGO Robotics Invention System version 1.5 best price $167.97
LEGO Robotics Invention System version 2.0 best price $199.99
Both Robotics Invention Systems (v1.5 & 2.0) come with an assembly guide for several robots and a GUI programming system where you connect various functions to allow the robot to do simple things.  However, you probably will find them too limiting and need to move up to programming in Ada or Not Quite "C".

Ada programming for LEGO Mindstorms robots
Dave Baum's book " Definitive Guide to LEGO Mindstorms "  $20.96
"Building and Programming Lego Mindstorms Robots Kit" & "Creative Projects with LEGO Mindstorms"  2 book set $34.96 
"Extreme Mindstorms: an Advanced Guide to Lego Mindstorms"   book $20.96 
A good intro to home brew sensors & programming

The Balt. chapter of ACM SIGAda is featuring "Fun with Ada" at our meeting here at APL 2/12/02 7pm I will be bringing my robot others may be bring robots, games, or other fun examples of Ada applications. Visit their website for directions or updates on our meetings .

Individuals with one or more of the following skills are needed:

If you're interested, or know someone who might be, please contact me and I can fill you in on what I've done (or though of) so far.

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For more information contact Rush Kester

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