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Speech on computer science  RSS feed

 
Joel Christophel
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For my speech class in college, I am going to be delivering a seven-minute informative speech about computer science. Over the years, I've been very impressed by the wisdom displayed by JavaRanch's experienced programmers, so I thought you guys could help me out.

My goal is to inform my class about programming languages and the job of programmers in Lehman's terms. I could focus on the modern state of computer programming or I could also delve into the evolution of programming (e.g. procedural to object-oriented, command line to IDEs). It could be fun to have volunteers participate somehow (I have access to a whiteboard).

No matter what I end up doing, I want to keep it interesting; it doesn't have to be super-technical. Are there any things that you guys think I should include? You guys always have great ideas.

P.S. This may not seem like quite the right forum for this thread. However, I figured I would get the most helpful responses here, as I will be addressing "beginners." If I am in error, feel free to move my post.
 
Stevens Miller
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I think you mean, "layman's terms."

Seven minutes is a long time to talk about this topic to a general audience. (Trust me: I've done a lot of public speaking, and can tell you that no one stays interested in anyone else's choice of topic for that long).

I recommend that you talk about people, not machines. Grace Hopper's story is an interesting one. So is Alan Turing's. And Steve Wozniak's. I'd skip over the most well-known names, like Jobs and Gates. Humor is also important. Start with a joke, if you can. Don't be afraid to be inspiring, as well. How? Something like this might work:
Imagine that that you have gone back in time, and that it is 1903. You are standing on a windy beach. A handful of people are holding onto a flimsy wood-and-fabric biplane that looks more like a box-kite than a flying machine. Nevertheless, its tiny engine somehow swings two wooden propellers just fast enough that the entire contraption actually leaves the ground, making Orville Wright the first human being to fly a real airplane. Imagine what you could tell him, what you could tell the Wright brothers, that they had started. That in the decades just ahead, their machine would evolve and be enhanced by others. That it would become faster than sound itself, carry hundreds of people across every ocean on Earth, and even make it all the way around the world without a single stop. They might not believe you, but you'd know it was true. Today, we can't go back in time, but we can see the early days of a more recent machine, and we can predict, with some certainty, how it will evolve in the decades ahead. And it's going to take us places, and show us things, and give us adventures no airplane ever has, or ever could. Let me tell you how..."

Or some such jive.

Anyway, that's my suggestion.
 
With a little knowledge, a cast iron skillet is non-stick and lasts a lifetime.
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