Computer Programming for Kids – 3 of 3

Since the last post on computer programming with kids, I've looked at three sofware packages that help you develop apps for Android or iOS: Kivy, Gideros, and Corona SDK. My first impressions follow. Of the three, Kivy is the least user friendly. I'll have to investigate further to find out how the code differs from the Lua programs, but it sure looks less inviting. There is no real user interface. You write up your code in Notepad, then execute it to see what you've got. This could be really awesome if it looked more like Gideros Mobile.

Computer Programming for Kids – 2 of 3

In the weeks since my oldest child began to use Alice, I have bought an Arduino and talked a lot about making and programming robots. This activity and discussion about microcontrollers is positively influencing the older two kids' interests in programming and electronics. Just last night, we pulled apart two old disk drives to see what we could salvage from them. We ended up keeping a couple motors, an LED, and lots of tiny screws that might come in handy one day. Today, they wanted me to hook up the Arduino and make some LEDs light up. There is opportunity to be seized here! Now that my daughter has finished her science presentation, I have a feeling that she is ready to move on from Alice. Today, I looked into several computer programming languages to find one that could be good for her to start off with.

Computer Programming for Kids – 1 of 3

In the past couple months, I've begun to teach my kids how to program. I have three young kids. The oldest is  9. I want to teach them to program because I learned how to program at an early age. While others had the good fortune of learning piano, I was messing around on Apple IIe computers learning Logo and BASIC in elementary school. A few years ago, I tried to have my oldest learn Logo. It did not work out too good. I guess it came down to lack of interest. She asked about it a few times, but never really got into it. For this second go around, I decided to change my approach to emphasize self-direction and initiative on her part. My role would be to facilitate her learning to program any way that grabs her interest. To find some programming tools for kids, I searched for "programming for kids."

Fukushima will not hurt California

For all those people in California and the rest of the United States who are worried about radiation from Japan, I made this simple chart. It shows how radiation from Fukushima scales to other sources of radiation. The important thing to note is that everyone gets 3650 microSievert per year from natural sources. You can't escape that. This amount is 36,500 time greater than what a Californian might see from Japan.

The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving

The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving, also known as TRIZ, is a system of rules and tools aimed at practical problem solving. It was originally geared toward patents within the engineering community, but also applicable to many other disciplines including technology forecasting, strategic planning, etc. Basically, its an iterative process for systematic innovation that teaches you how to find answers to your problems, often by looking at other scientific fields. An underlying concept is that somebody, somewhere has already solved your problem —- the challenge is to find that solution and modify it into a new set of solutions to fit your circumstances.