For Inspiration and Recognition of Science
and Technology (FIRST) is a nonprofit organi-
zation that helps young people discover and
develop a passion for science, engineering,
technology, and math. Founded more than 20
years ago by inventor Dean Kamen, the
2009–2010 FIRST season attracted more
than 210,000 youth and more than 90,000 mentors, coaches, and volunteers
from 56 countries. The annual programs culminate in an international robotics
competition and celebration, where teams win recognition, gain self-confidence,
develop people and life skills, make new friends, and perhaps discover an unfore-
seen career path.
The Java SDK for FIRST Robotics is based on the Squawk Java Virtual
Machine (JVM). Inspired by the Smalltalk Squeak project, the main goal of the
Squawk virtual machine project is to write as much of the virtual machine as possible in Java, for portability, ease of debugging, and maintainability. Traditionally,
most JVMs are written in C/C++. Squawk aims at pushing the bar and writing
most of the JVM in Java.
Greenlight for Girls is an international nongovernmental organization and a
social initiative with the mission to encourage young girls of all ages to consider
a future in math, science, engineering, and/or technology by introducing them to
the world of science in fun and exciting ways. At Greenlight@Brussels Day 2011,
Tasha Carl and other members of Brussels Java User Group—supported by the
Paris, France–based European Space Agency and Genoa, Italy–based Scuola
di Robotica (School of Robotics)—organized a successful workshop as part of
EU Robotics Week. Teams of girls in Brussels, Belgium, and Genoa programmed
robots for a simulated “Mission on Mars” as part of an event reaching 300 girls,
inspiring them to study science and technology.
“Few subjects will open as many doors for
students in the twenty-first century as computer science and engineering,” says Dolan.
“As the steward of Java, Oracle is uniquely
positioned to help educators
awaken and deepen students’
interest in these subjects.”
“I use Java for a lot
of personal projects
but had never used it
for developing a Web
hands-on access to Oracle applications that
are widely used in a variety of industries.
The Oracle Academy’s Introduction program
delivers semester-based curriculum that can
be easily incorporated into secondary school
computer science programs. Later this year,
the Oracle Academy is releasing a new Java
curriculum for secondary school students.
NEW JAVA CURRICULUM, PLUS
ALICE AND GREENFOOT
The Oracle Academy’s Java
curriculum targets students
with little or no previous
The two-semester curriculum
starts with Java Fundamentals
and is followed by Java
“Our Java curriculum
maps to both the Advanced
Placement [AP] Computer
Science A exam [delivered
in the U.S.] and Oracle’s
Java certification exam,”
As a complement to the Java curriculum, the
Oracle Academy looks for innovative, engaging
ways to promote Java and technology education. Oracle supports Alice and Greenfoot,
two interactive Java programming environments for students. “Alice and Greenfoot are
designed to be fun and engaging—they really
grab students’ attention. When young people
use these applications, they are immediately
successful and, in turn, become highly motivated to learn more,” says Dolan.
For students ages 10 through 22, Alice
introduces object-oriented programming
through a drag-and-drop programming
environment that allows students to create
animation for telling a story, playing an inter-
active game, or sharing a video on the Web.
For students at the secondary and under-
graduate levels, Greenfoot provides a Java
that enables easy creation of
applications, such as simula-
tions and interactive games.
While the new Oracle
Academy Java curriculum
and initiatives like Alice and
Greenfoot foster early student
interest in computer science
and Java learning opportuni-
ties, the Oracle Academy also
works to ensure that college/
university students gain
industry-relevant skills prior to
entering the workforce.
Rich Schwerin is a senior manager with Oracle
Publishing who focuses on social media.