Leading the Way for MHS Students
Meet Justin Hoffman, MHS math teacher and Project Lead the Way Computer Science teacher. My first encounter with Justin’s class was hearing words like: collude, retaliate, fixed link, python binary, concatenate tuple, and my favorite – “I got rid of the forever loop and it is still not compiling!” Just spend a few minutes in his class and the list will go on. Pretty much a foreign language to me, a digital immigrant.
Justin’s latest assignment begins with the following: Welcome to Prisoner’s Dilemma – Game Theory 101! The Prisoner’s Dilemma was one of the early algorithmic problems in game theory, first posed in 1950. You and another person have committed a crime together, and you are caught without evidence. The police questions you and the other person separately. If you both collude and refuse to talk, you go free. If you confess your crime and betray each other, the liability will be split between you resulting in receiving the standard punishment. If you hope to collude and the other player betrays, you get a severe punishment while the other goes free and keeps the stolen goods. If you betray the other person while they attempt to collude with you, you are set free and get a cash payment.
For you digital enthusiasts watch the video about this game at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9Lo2fgxWHw
What attracts a dynamic computer guy to teaching? Justin is a Hawkeye who took every possible programming class, became a teacher’s associate in IT, and managed a restaurant before feeling a pull to the teaching profession. His path to the head of the classroom has been through an alternate pathway called RAPIL – Regents’ Alternative Pathway to Iowa Licensure.
His passion for coding, his desire to share that passion with others, and his drive to make his class relevant attracts students to his class. His interactions with students are filled with questions directed to them like, “What do you think…?” to which he responds to their answer with encouraging words like, “Fair enough.” He attended Project Lead the Way training this summer to prepare for the MHS classroom. He plans to adjust some of the time spent in his PLTW course from 30 days on pie charts and histograms to delving deeper into making video games in Python. When they reach networking and web development, he plans on learning right beside his students.
In our district from coding in grades K-5, to First Lego League robotics in grade 6, and now computer science at the high school, we are following the motto of Project Lead the Way – “Forging new generations!”