Tag: kids (page 2 of 2)

Teaching kids about computers and coding

Not only is Hacker News a great place to find the latest news about tech-related stuff, it’s also got some interesting ‘Ask HN’ threads sourcing recommendations from the community.

This particular one starts with a user posing the question:

Ask HN: How do you teach you kids about computers and coding?

Please share what tools & approaches you use – it may Scratch, Python, any kids specific like Linux distros, Raspberry Pi or recent products like Lego Boost… Or your experiences with them.. thanks.

Like sites such as Reddit and Stack Overflow, responses are voted up based on their usefulness. The most-upvoted response was this one:

My daughter is almost 5 and she picked up Scratch Jr in ten minutes. I am writing my suggestions mostly from the context of a younger child.

I approached it this way, I bought a book on Scratch Jr so I could get up to speed on it. I walked her through a few of the basics, and then I just let her take over after that.

One other programming related activity we have done is the Learning Resources Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity. She has a lot of fun with this as you have a small mouse you program with simple directions to navigate a maze to find the cheese. It uses a set of cards to help then grasp the steps needed. I switch to not using the cards after a while. We now just step the mouse through the maze manually adding steps as we go.

One other activity to consider is the robot turtles board game. This teaches some basic logic concepts needed in programming.

For an older child, I did help my nephew to learn programming in Python when he was a freshman in high school. I took the approach of having him type in games from the free Python book. I have always though this was a good approach for older kids to get the familiar with the syntax.

Something else I would consider would be a robot that can be programmer with Scratch. While I have not done this yet, I think for kid seeing the physical results of programming via a robot is a powerful way to capture interest.

But I think my favourite response is this one:

What age range are we talking about? For most kids aged 6-12 writing code is too abstract to start with. For my kids, I started making really simple projects with a Makey Makey. After that, I taught them the basics with Scratch, since there are tons of fun tutorials for kids. Right now, I’m building a Raspberry Pi-powered robot with my 10yo (basically it’s a poor man’s Lego Mindstorm).

The key is fun. The focus is much more on ‘building something together’ than ‘I’ll learn you how to code’. I’m pretty sure that if I were to press them into learning how to code it will only put them off. Sometimes we go for weeks without building on the robot, and all of the sudden she will ask me to work on it with her again.

My son is sailing through his Computer Science classes at school because of some webmaking and ‘coding’ stuff we did when he was younger. He’s seldom interested, however, if I want to break out the Raspberry Pi and have a play.

At the end of the day, it’s meeting them where they’re at. If they show an interest, run with it!

Source: Hacker News

Using VR with kids

I’ve seen conflicting advice regarding using Virtual Reality (VR) with kids, so it’s good to see this from the LSE:

Children are becoming aware of virtual reality (VR) in increasing numbers: in autumn 2016, 40% of those aged 2-15 surveyed in the US had never heard of VR, and this number was halved less than one year later. While the technology is appealing and exciting to children, its potential health and safety issues remain questionable, as there is, to date, limited research into its long-term effects.

I have given my two children (six and nine at the time) experience of VR — albeit in limited bursts. The concern I have is about eyesight, mainly.

As a young technology there are still many unknowns about the long-term risks and effects of VR gaming, although Dubit found no negative effects from short-term play for children’s visual acuity, and little difference between pre- and post-VR play in stereoacuity (which relies on good eyesight for both eyes and good coordination between the two) and balance tests. Only 2 of the 15 children who used the fully immersive head-mounted display showed some stereoacuity after-effects, and none of those using the low-cost Google Cardboard headset showed any. Similarly, a few seemed to be at risk of negative after-effects to their balance after using VR, but most showed no problems.

There’s some good advice in this post for VR games/experience designers, and for parents. I’ll quote the latter:

While much of a child’s experience with VR may still be in museums, schools or other educational spaces under the guidance of trained adults, as the technology becomes more available in domestic settings, to ensure health and safety at home, parents and carers need to:

  • Allow children to preview the game on YouTube, if available.
  • Provide children with time to readjust to the real world after playing, and give them a break before engaging with activities like crossing roads, climbing stairs or riding bikes, to ensure that balance is restored.
  • Check on the child’s physical and emotional wellbeing after they play.

There’s a surprising lack of regulation and guidance in this space, so it’s good to see the LSE taking the initiative!

Source: Parenting for a Digital Future

The upside of kids watching Netflix instead of TV

In our house, on the (very) rare occasions we’re watching live television that includes advert breaks, I mute the sound and do a humourous voice-over…

With more homes than ever becoming ‘Netflix Only’ homes, we wanted to see how many hours of commercials kids in these homes are being spared. We were able to determine that kids in ‘Netflix Only’ homes are saved from just over 230 hours of commercials a year when compared to traditional television viewership homes.

Source: Exstreamist

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