The Nifty Assignments session at the annual SIGCSE meeting is all about gathering and distributing great assignment ideas and their materials. For each assignment, the web pages linked below describe the assignment and provides materials -- handouts, starter code, and so on.
Applying for Nifty is now done as its own track with a similar deadline to special sessions. The format and content of the .zip you submit is unchanged. See the info page for ideas about what makes a nifty assignment and how to apply for the Nifty session.
Please email any suggestions or comments to Nick Parlante @ cs.stanford.edu with "nifty" in the subject. Nick's Home
|Nifty Assignments 2017|
|Falling Sand - Dave Feinberg||CS1 Very engaging falling simulation|
|2048 in Python - Kunal Mishra||CS1 The fantastic 2048 game works great as a CS assignment|
|Fractal Sound - Josh Hug||CS1 Amazing sound generation and visualization|
|SAT Synonyms - Michael Guerzhoy||CS1-CS2 Fun big data application to the familiar SAT word problems|
|NBody Simulation - Kevin Wayne||CS2 Captivating gravity simulation. Gravity .. it's everywhere!|
|Nifty Assignments 2016|
|Mountain Paths -- Baker Franke||CS1 Neat simple algorithm in 2D arrays|
|Restaurant Recommendations Yelp Maps -- Brian Hou, Marvin Zhang, and John DeNero||CS1 Nifty data visualization of restaurant data|
|Rack-O Game -- Arvind Bhusnurmath, Kristen Gee, and Karen Her||CS1 Play and AI code for an easy game|
|Movie Review Sentiment -- Eric Manley and Timothy Urness||CS1/CS2 Neat word analysis from a surprisingly simple algorithm|
|HugLife -- Josh Hug||CS1/CS2 Grid simulation game that shows off testing|
|Autocomplete-me -- Kevin Wayne||CS2 Neat applied use of word storage and binary search|
|Nifty Assignments 2015|
|Counting Squares -- Mark Sherriff, Luther Tychonievich, and Ryan Layer||CS0/CS1 Neat and easy squares activity|
|Speed Reader -- Peter-Michael Osera||CS1 Nifty Animation|
|GeoLocator -- Stuart Reges||CS1 Fun Geo Data|
|Packet Sniffing -- Suzanne Matthews and David Raymond||CS1 Eye Opening Networking|
|Melody Maker -- Allison Obourn and Marty Stepp||CS1 Fun with Sound|
|Seam Carving -- Josh Hug||CS1/CS2 Amazing Image Resize Trick|
|Nifty Assignments 2013|
|Twitter Trends -- John DeNero and Aditi Muralidharan||CS0-CS1 Neat output with a hip big-data source|
|Collage -- Mark Guzdial||CS0 Novel media output by combining images|
|Authorship Detection -- Michelle Craig||CS1 Surprisingly effective data driven categorization with basic coding|
|Recursive TurtleGraphics -- Eric Roberts||CS1 Get at the essential recursive idea very easily|
|Campus Shuttle -- David Malan||CS1 Stunning graphical tour|
|Estimating Avogadro's Number -- Kevin Wayne||CS1/CS2 Surprisingly easy image processing of lab data to get a real-world result|
|Nifty Assignments 2012|
|Stereo Sound Processing -- Daniel Zingaro||CS1 (early) - Fun and impressive early in the quarter - remove vocals from sound|
|Guitar Heroine -- Kevin Wayne||CS1/CS2, Extremely neat -- math model creates realistic guitar sound|
|Uno -- Stephen Davies||CS1, Strategy AI to play Uno.|
|Image Editor -- Joshua T. Guerin and Debby Keen||CS1/CS2 Code to experiment with images, but requiring only the ability to change text files.|
|Igel Ärgern -- Zachary Kurmas||CS2 Hedgehogs in a Hurry game|
|Binary Bomb -- David O'Hallaron||Post CS2 -- neat assignment puzzle to play with understanding of compiled code and memory as they truly are. On the linked page, see the README, Writeup, Release Notes, Self-Study Handout which all work without a password. To play with the code, email Dave and he'll send you what you need to get the binaries.|
|Nifty Assignments 2011|
|Image Puzzles -- Nick Parlante||CS0 or later, great puzzles using images, tiny code required|
|BMP Puzzles -- David Malan||CS1, More and better image puzzles, looking at bytes of BMP file representation|
|Book Recommendations -- Michelle Craig||CS1, Like the Netflix movie-recommendation system, generate book recommendations. Surprisingly simple algorithms give a neat results.|
|Generic Scrolling Game -- Dave Feinberg||CS1, Project pattern which supports a variety of games. Easily allows students to customize rules, graphics etc. of simple game.|
|Wator World -- Mike Scott||CS1-CS2, Shark/fish simulation using GridWorld type abstraction. Neat simulation/modeling example working from simple rules.|
|Hamming Codes -- Stuart Hansen||CS2, Neat exercise with a real algorithm. Push the students to understand that it's really all bytes.|
|Evil Hangman -- Keith Schwarz||CS2 or late CS1 - Awesome variant of Hangman, where the computer cheats by dodging all the user's guesses|
|Nifty Assignments 2010|
|Picobot -- Zachary Dodds||CS0-CS1, day-1 assignment -- neat environment to get students started, works in the browser|
|Pig -- Todd Neller||CS1, intermediate difficulty game to implement, but students love it and lots of variations|
|Song Generator -- Daniel Zingaro||CS1, implement filters with short bits of code, but it all works in the domain of sound, making in a novel and engaging domain for the students|
|CSI: Computer Science Investigation -- David Malan||The instructor accidentally erases the compact flash card containing their images. Students write code to recover the images, solve the treasure hunt using the images|
|Encryption Chase -- Mark Sherriff||CS2, encryption coding, embedded in a team active-learning campus treasure hunt|
|Chatting Aimlessly (IM) -- Thomas Murtagh||CS1, implement simple instant messaging client in CS1 -- talk about a technology near to the student heart!|
|Nifty Assignments 2009|
|Star Map -- Karen Reid||CS1, neat drawing of the night sky and constellations -- simple file reading and drawing|
|Face Pamphlet -- Mehran Sahami||CS1, simple Facebook application built with just CS1 technology, students love it|
|Secrets In Images -- Brent Heeringa, Thomas Murtagh||CS1, hide secret messages inside images -- neat image manipulation with data as simple arrays|
|Random Art -- Christopher A Stone||CS1, build nifty images with recursive nested random symbolic math expressions (python)|
|Enigma Encryption -- Dave Reed||CS1-CS21, range of easy to complex cryptography projects, using paper/manipulation model to get started|
|DNA Splicing -- Owen Astrachan||CS2, surprisingly easy DNA manipulation, set up for the students to measure/experiment with their code|
|Nifty Assignments 2008|
|Catch Plagiarists -- Baker Franke||CS1-CS2, typical CS2 data structures, difficulty can be adjusted. Search within a set of documents to find pairs with copied content|
|Genetic Algorithm TSP -- Raja Sooriamurthi||CS1-CS2, basic genetic algorithms. Use genetic algorithms to solve the traveling salesman problem|
|Asteroids -- Dan Leyzberg, Art Simon||CS1-CS2, objects, inheritance, abstract classes. An impressive implementation of Asteroids with OOP design and inheritance|
|Huffman Images -- Morgan McGuire, Tom Murtagh||CS1(late) or CS2(early). Labs to explore huffman compression in the context of image bitmap manipulation|
|Maze Solver -- Don Blaheta||CS2, stacks, queues, 2d arrays. Play around with algorithms to solve a maze. Works with gridworld|
|Dice Flip -- Cay Horstmann||CS1-CS2, prolog for advanced CS2, java for late CS1 variant. Explore simple but subtle dice game|
|Nifty Assignments 2007|
|Media Manipulation -- John Cigas||CS0-CS1, spreadsheet use or basic code. Transfer media data to spreadsheet form to make manipulation easy|
|Mindreader -- Raja Sooriamurthi||CS1, CS2. basic logic, map interface (arrays or Hashmaps). Build a surprisingly good computer opponent for a guessing game|
|Solitaire OOP -- Robert Noonan||CS2, OOP and patterns to explore family of solitaire games|
|Sliding Blocks Puzzle -- Mike Clancy||CS2, significant recursion and data structures. Recursive and heuristic work to solve the sliding blocks puzzle.|
|Fire -- Angela Shiflet||CS2, 2-d arrays, simulation. Neat, real-world example simulating spread of fire across a terrain, depending on humidity etc.|
|Nifty Assignments 2006|
|Book Code (ISBN) -- John Motil||CS1, basic logic to play with ISBN numbers. Fun because we are surrounded by these numbers .. use them for basic examples|
|Natural Prestidigitation -- Steve Wolfman||CS1, basic logic, loops, arrays. Appears dull, but has a neat surprise ending.|
|Breakout -- Eric Roberts||CS1, basic logic, loops using ACM graphics early in the term|
|Dancing Turtles -- Chris Nevison||CS1, inheritance with dancing turtles and ACM graphics|
|Solitaire Encryption -- Lester I. McCann||CS2, list manipulations, algorithmic code, file reading. Implements a very novel type of encryption.|
|Anagram Solver -- Stuart Reges||CS2, recursive backtracking ... a very fun application of recursive search|
|RSS Reader -- Jerry Cain||CS2, data structures, networking ... neat to implement a client for a real protocol|
|Nifty Assignments 2005|
|Test Me -- David Levine||CS0-CS1, students write tests to examine black box code -- nifty and no code writing|
|Grid Plotter -- Alyce Brady and Pam Cutter||CS1, neat way to learn and practice loop code|
|Complementary Currency -- Paul Kube||CS1, OOP by creating a currency ... has a community/social aspect among the students|
|Name Surfer -- Nick Parlante||CS1, loops, arrays, files. Graph baby name data for the last 100 years. Nifty because the data is nifty.|
|Photomosaics PPT (PDF version) -- Rich Pattis||CS2, create image made of many little images .. but there is a patent on it|
|Image Lab -- Aaron Gordon||CS2, framework to allow students to write filters on 2-d data and see them applied to images|
- Pong -- Grant Braught -- a neat "objects first" assignment
- Lunar Lander -- Stuart Reges -- another fun "objects first" assignment
- HTML Browser -- Scott Dexter and Chaya Gurwitz -- CS2 assignment to render HTML
- Backtracking -- Stephen Weiss -- CS2 all about backtracking
- Random Writer -- Joe Zachary -- a neat CS2 data structure problem
- Blurbs from the proceedings
- Shall We Play A Game? -- Dan Garcia -- A system where students can play around with game playing AI (CS0)
- Adventure -- John Estell -- Using the classic adventure game as a largish project (CS2)
- Sorting Detective -- David Levine -- A fun variation on the old "sorting algorithms" homework (CS2)
- Boggle -- Julie Zelenski (in cahoots with Owen Astrachan) -- Using the Boggle game to explore recursive algorithms and data structure tradeoffs (CS2)
- Blurbs from the proceedings
- Windows and Regions -- Mike Clancy -- an algorithmic problem using 2-d regions. An excuse to do some linked-list (or ArrayList) type manipulation. Give the students a feel for "window" manager region operations.
- Personality Test -- Stuart Reges -- sort and match the personality data of the class (more fun than it sounds!)
- Quilt -- Julie Zelenski -- a fun, drawing-intensive CS1 project that emphasizes decomp
- Word Ladder -- Owen Astrachan -- a string manipulation puzzle
- Tetris -- Nick Parlante -- a large OOP project, with a tetris board, tetris piece, tetris game, and a pluggable tetris brain . Can be used as a small project where students just write a Tetris brain and plug it in, or can be used as a large CS2 OOP project. The nifty materials include a runnable JTetris.jar sample, and an Instructor's Guide
- Blurbs from the proceedings
- Cat And Mouse -- Mike Clancy -- (CS1) a cute problem which requires non-trivial geometry and algorithms, but can be solved in 100 lines.
- Bagels -- Stuart Reges -- (CS1) a fun game with some algorithmic complexity.
- DNA -- Richard E. Pattis -- (CS1) great first data structures and performance tuning problem.
- Huffman Coding -- Owen Astrachan -- (CS2) decomposition and data structures.
- The Random Sentence Generator -- Julie Zelenski -- (CS2) a fun use of grammars, recursion, and ADTs.
- Darwin's World -- Nick Parlante -- (CS2) a simulator featuring decomposition and a simple interpreter.
On this site you will find lesson modules covering basic computer skills developed by computer teachers* from Adult Basic Education programs in the St. Paul Community Literacy Consortium.
You will find Lessons (handouts), Teacher Guides, Vocabulary Lists and Activities. Some computer skills may have several lessons associated with them and some lessons may cover several computer skills.
The lessons are grouped by computer task and skill. Rather than rigidly defining a day-by-day curriculum, teachers can pick and choose lessons and activities that suit their classroom needs and student’s pace.
The teachers on this project highly recommend incorporating keyboarding practice into your curriculum. Using a keyboarding program such as Mavis Beacon every day will help your students feel comfortable on the keyboard. There are also some good resources Learn to Type Efficiently and at Online Keyboarding Education.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. These materials are free for others to use non-commerciually. Please credit the St. Paul Community Literacy Consortium when using.
Note: All files are PDF format unless noted.
New MSWord Additions
Updated exercises, project ideas, and course outlines in Microsoft Word are now available in a single (27 Megabyte) download. Simply right-click the "Computer_training.zip" zip file and choose "Save Target As" to download to your computer. Then use your favorite zip program to unzip the entire curriculum.
Table of Contents:
Very Basic Computer Skills
Visuals for teaching very basic computer skills: using a mouse and turning a computer on and off. These are suited for low NRS levels or for students with little to no computer experience. Two good websites for practicing mouse skills are Mousarobics and Mouse Exercises.
Handouts and activities to teach everyday computer vocabulary (computer parts, toolbar, font, highlight, etc.). These are suited for low NRS levels or for students with little to no computer experience.
Opening and Saving Files
Navigating windows to open and save files. These are suited for low NRS levels or for students with little to no computer experience.
Skills and Activities Practice
Activities created to help students practice skills such as font attributes (bold, italics), spacing, cut-and-paste, and tables. All documents are zipped together. Each lesson includes a Teacher's Guide and several activities (MS Word Documents). These are suited for low NRS levels or for students with little to no computer experience.
MS Word Exercises
Step-by-step instructions with graphics designed to introduce learners to various aspects of MS Word. NRS levels range from Low Intermediate and High Intermediate Basic Education to Low Adult Secondary.
Step-by-step instructions with graphics designed to introduce learners to various aspects of MS Excel. These lessons are suitable for NRS level Low Adult Secondary.
Lessons and activities on using the internet. These lessons refer to Internet Explorer as the browser. Many activities can be completed regardless of the browser.
Step-by-step instructions with graphics designed to walk students through the creation of a PowerPoint presentation.
* This project was funded by America Connects Consortium with the goal of creating lessons for common basic computer skills that teachers in the Adult Basic Education field could download and incorporate into their classroom at no cost.
Curriculum developed by:
- Jessica Schachterle from Minnesota Literacy Council
- Daniel Hoisington from Lao Family Community
- Deb Woodburn, volunteer with Chicanos Latinos Unidos En Servicio working with Minnesota Literacy Council
Thanks to the Minnesota Literacy Council and teacher, Jessica Grace Jones, for the new additions. For feedback or questions regarding the curriculum, contact Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org.