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To keep your students interested and alert, you should add new examples from your personal experiences and from your students’ interests. I’ve had great success in my classroom using examples that involve sports teams (particularly local rivalries), music (combining classics such as Bach, Beethoven, and Tone-Loc), the students in the class (but be sure not to put anyone on the spot), television shows and stars, comedians, and political candidates. (Be careful with politics, though, because some people can become really emotionally attached to a particular candidate, no matter how stupid that candidate is.

If an application’s underlying design is flawed, the system as a whole is at risk. Bad assumptions in the design creep into the code at the application’s lowest levels, resulting in flawed subsystems. Higher-level systems built on those subsystems inherit the design flaws and soon their code is corrupted, too. Sometimes a sort of decay pervades the entire system and nobody notices until relatively late in the project. The longer the project continues, the more entrenched the incorrect assumptions become and the more reluctant developers are to suggest scrapping the whole design and starting over.

I’ve had students build databases that track statistics for the players on their favorite football teams, inventory their DVD or CD collections, file and search recipe collections, store data on ‘‘Magic: The Gathering’’ trading cards, track role-playing game characters, record information about classic cars, and schedule athletic tournaments. ) One student even built a small but complete inventory application for his mother’s business that she actually found useful. I think he was as surprised as anyone to discover he’d learned something useful.

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