Re: Great expectations...
>been brought up on a diet of XBox and Playstation, near-photo-quality 3D graphics, realistic physics and immersive audio,
So, use those attributes to teach things. Something like Gary's Mod, for example, allows for Python Scripting. Class project? Design a Rube-Goldberg style mousetrap. Physics. Cause and Effect. If X happens then do Y.
Whilst you're at it, teach them to record and edit audio. Take it into the music class. Let them mess it up by setting the recording levels too high - they'll learn from that. Have them re-create their school in a virtual space. Use a Kinect (low cost low res 3D scanner) and integrate into Design and Technology. Some of them might become engineers.
A crazy amount of biological research (a science subject that attracts more females than some other science and technology subjects) involves programming and computation these days. Let's have some 3D proteins and enzymes floating around and interacting. What happens when we turn up the temperature? Do they interact faster, or do they become denatured?
Zoology, have a virtual ecosystem. What happens to the population of herbivores when I remove all the apex predators? (hint: it doesn't grow steadily)
I had a graphical calculator when I studied calculus. It was an aid,
However, hand skills are very important. Mental arithmetic, laying out engineering drawings by hand, laboratory skills. I had a graphical calculator when I studied calculus; it was a great aid to visualising, but it didn't replace doing things by hand on graph paper.