Serious Fun in Computer Science

Paul Curzon

(Queen Mary University)


Computer Science has been in crisis for several years with interest in
studying it having dropped dramatically. Our solution has been to show
how much fun it is based on leading-edge research presented in offbeat
ways. This is more effective than selling ourselves directly. Computer
Science is after all a naturally exciting, innovative and
thought-provoking subject. cs4fn (www.cs4fn.org), a website and magazine
that we've been writing for the sheer enjoyment of it, is a key part of
the solution that can help everyone. It is now funded by an EPSRC PPE
award. We also do Computer Science Research "shows" for kids, including
a Magic Show and an AI show that involves building a working brain out
of rope and toilet roll.

Our approach works: teachers are positive (eg "This has to be THE most
inspired bit of literature/content for getting youngsters switched onto
Computer Science!") as are industry, and the International Review of ICT
commended us ... and we have seen an increase in undergraduate
applications of over 130% in 2 years.

In this talk we will demonstrate some of the live activities we do, show
how some have translated to online activities and discuss some of the
issues in making sure Computer Science is fun as well as serious.

Tuesday 12th February 2008, 14:00
Robert Recorde Room
Department of Computer Science