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winkleink
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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:27 am

Firstly, congratulation to the team behind Raspberry Pi.
What a mammoth effort and I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on my own (model B)

I have an idea for how to introduce the R-Pi and woudl appreciate your comments.

Looking at the goal for R-Pi I feel it is essential that the kids when first introduced to the R-Pi get very excited by its potential and that they have an opportunity to use it.

Imaging walking into a room with 5+ R-Pis running a variety of programs that look amazing. Like Particle Demon (). Then seeing the programs being updated in a few minutes and the graphics wizardry changing. Now give the kids a change to do it themselves. Change the colours, change the speed, change the shapes.

In 20 minutes they will have programmed and seen the fruits of their labour deliver results. The kids who get it and enjoy it will want more.
Now it's about the kids wanting to be involved rather than trying to make them involved.

Way back when this is how I got hooked.
A simple demo of a ball going across the screen and then going back again.
While the teacher spoke 1 of the kids who could already program changed the code so that the ball went back twice as fast as it went out.
My mind fizzed with ideas of animation and creating my own world. The fact that the change took seconds made be believe this was something I could do.
I was hooked.
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clifforeilly
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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:10 am

I agree that the most important driver for educational use will be keeping the children interested and engaged. I fear that "simple" programs might not be enough though. What engaged me as a child (and you too winkleink by the sounds of it) was comparatively useful programs. These days the gulf between what can be achieved by a few lines of code and what's available on consoles etc is huge. The video game industry has moved on sooo much since I was young that it may be simply too big a gap between making a ball move across a screen and Gears Of War, for example. If we want children to continue to be engaged and program at home then it needs to be compelling enough to drag them away from their XBoxs etc.

I think there will always need to be a place for teaching the basics like algorithms and variables etc, but perhaps more complex systems could be used to show the progression that's possible.

When you mentioned creating your own world my mind thought of Minecraft. This is an excellent new indie game that allows gamers to create their own additions and modifications to the game via Java and create your own worlds. It would be possible (after a few introductory lessons on the basics) to show children the possibilities by creating a Mod in class - probably led by the teacher rather than the children.

I hope I'm wrong and that children are transfixed by the power of being able program themselves, but teachers being aware of the balance between what's cutting edge programming might help too.

obarthelemy
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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:05 pm

I'm not a teacher, but I think one of the most common mistakes is starting from scratch. Thinking back on how I did it, I copied programs, then tweaked them, then started stuff from scratch when I had a clue on what could be done, and how.
My first formal programming class was dBase3, and the teacher did start from scratch, which lost about 80% of the class.

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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:24 pm

Quote from obarthelemy on November 7, 2011, 13:05
I'm not a teacher, but I think one of the most common mistakes is starting from scratch. Thinking back on how I did it, I copied programs, then tweaked them, then started stuff from scratch when I had a clue on what could be done, and how.
My first formal programming class was dBase3, and the teacher did start from scratch, which lost about 80% of the class.


Yes one of the good things in the early 80s was that there were so many magazines with type-ins available and there were always listings that were poor quality (copies of printouts on thermal paper, light printing...) where after you typed it in and tried to run it you'd end up with syntax and other errors and you'd have to debug the listing to get it work and when you did you got a sene of accoumplishment and satisfaction that encouraged you to try to mod the program to do something else so you started in small steps that after each one gave you a small reward.

The other nice thing about computers in schools in the uk in the 80s was that because there were so few computers in schools. Most of the time, especially when typing in listings from magazines you worked with someone else. one person would do the typing and the other would read the listing so you'd discuss things while you were programming and each of you would make suggestions about how to improve the program or one would know a certain poke or trick they had learnt elsewhere and show the other and vice versa so both learnt something new. Eventually if you were really interested you'd go off and work by yourself but during the important initial period you had lots of small successes and someone to "show off" to.

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winkleink
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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:06 pm

@clifforeilly - I agree that the gap between commercial games and what can be done by a beginner is far greater than in the 80's but I still believe being able to make something yourself will appeal to some.

@obarthelemy - same experience here. My 1st official course was BASIC in college where I did electronics. Started with the fundamentals and most of the people in my year couldn't care less. It was just another subject with an exam. I had done everything they did in the course before arriving so I was left to my own devices to write Patience and a Banner Printer on the ancient PDP-11.
Biggest kick I ever got was walking into the computer lab and everybody was playing my Patience game. (100% market penetration)

I don't expect every kid to want to learn programming. Just like all kids don't want to do physics, or English literature or football, but expose the right kids to the spark and they will be hooked.

Start with the result and then go back and show how to get there rather than start with the basics and hope you keep them interested until they get to something exciting.

As an aside. Last year to the year before there was a program about technology through the decades in the UK where a family lived a different decade for a week.
In the 80s they got a BBC. The son Hamish (13) in the TV program enjoyed typing in a simple program to do some graphics and sound stuff. Nothing like modern games but the enjoyment and excitement at getting it working was there. http://www.bbc.co.uk/electricd.....#the-1980s
It doesn't have to be Halo or Gran Turismo it just has to be something the kids do themselves.

In the 80s I never wrote a game that rivaled anything I bought. It didn't stop me coding and tinkering and enjoying.

Passion and excitement first. Teaching later.
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Plant
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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:27 pm

Hi, I've got a dilemma which I think will may effect many parents.

I really want to get my 10-year-old a raspberry pi, but the old family G4 Mac is now going spare. My dilemma is if I give him the mac to play with is he ever going to bother with the pi? He is into the internet, stop animation and scratch but more into the PS2.

I love the idea of the pi because it is more nuts and bolts and I want him to learn about computers and what goes on under the hood. I will definitely buy one if I can. I had a Spectrum when I was a teenager and wrote my own game called rear gunner because at the time I couldn't find a game that fulfilled that fantasy!!

I guess my point is when we were kids we programmed because we had to and found it rewarding taking control of the telly for the first time. Nowadays they have so many top quality digital distractions how can we inspire them to programme?

I thought about saying to him the only computer he is allowed in his bedroom is a pi but that seems a bit mean. It would force him to get it working though.

What do you think? Apple or Raspberry pi?

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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:55 pm

I think.. both ? A Pi is cheap, unassuming so they might take mental ownership of it, they can break it -because they actually can't break it-...
A lot depends on what will be available for it though, both software and tutorials/docs. If there's enough material to actually use it, the Pi might work.

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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:28 pm

Let me preface this by saying I'm not affiliated with the r-pi team, I'm just a fan.

My vote goes for the r-pi if it's an either or situation. I don't particularly like the apple as an OS. As a product it's just fine, but my personal opinion (and really, this is just my two cents) is that apple is an extremely closed source, restricted OS. If it was a video game I'd call it a rail shooter (it dictates where and when you go, you just pull the trigger when you want to hit something).

Linux (not necessarily the r-pi) might take some getting used to, but if you child has never learned an OS at all, then that's true no matter what flavor you choose. If they take the time to learn it's ins and outs, however, I think Linux would prepare them for the world much better than apple ever could.
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Bacan
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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:48 pm

Mac vs R-Pi vs PS2 vs ??? :

What does he want to do?
What does he need to do?
What does his friends do? Have? Use?
Talk to him and his friends about the R-Pi.
What do you want him to experience/do and learn?
What is your budget?
What software&hardware do you have already for the Mac?
How quickly will/can he make use of the machine?
How easily? With and without your help?
What resources are available to him; at home, at school, at library, on internet, at a club, ... ?

I know I've given you more questions than just a simple answer.
How about asking your son these questions and open a dialog for a "bonding" experience.

Plant
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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Tue Nov 15, 2011 4:05 pm

Wow

That's quite a sensible suggestion.

You are right, I should include him in this. I think I have become a bit carried away with the concept of the pi and what it stands for and forgotten what he might want.

Knowing him he will say both :-)

He is already keen to make a lego case for the pi.

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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:59 pm

OK got some feedback.

Initially he wasn't interested in the pi or mac when we said he couldn't have the internet in his bedroom.

It was only when I said that it would be totally his to play with he showed some interest. So I guess this proves the ownership point. He is allowed the internet under supervision so I have given him a memory stick to transfer files to his computer and he was delighted with that!

it is amazing how quickly they experiment with the OS, he was showing me stuff I didn't know within minutes.

I just wondered if others had opinions on young children accessing the internet unsupervised?

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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:40 pm

Quote from Plant on November 17, 2011, 16:59
OK got some feedback.

Initially he wasn't interested in the pi or mac when we said he couldn't have the internet in his bedroom.

It was only when I said that it would be totally his to play with he showed some interest. So I guess this proves the ownership point. He is allowed the internet under supervision so I have given him a memory stick to transfer files to his computer and he was delighted with that!

it is amazing how quickly they experiment with the OS, he was showing me stuff I didn't know within minutes.

I just wondered if others had opinions on young children accessing the Internet unsupervised?

Before I post, you should take note that I'm 15 and I've been allowed unsupervised Internet access since we were on dial-up (ahh, those were the days - Windows ME, shoddy 3D games, text-based Internet, big clunky monitors, MASSIVE 10GB Hard Drives XD ...woo!).

But, I've seen this topic come up regularly on blogs and forums. Many people say YES - keep their children supervised, they could end up accidentally wandering across Porn or other "bad" websites. But, lots of people say NO - they say it's over-parenting, there are trust issues between parent and child and kids should be individuals.

I have already said I was allowed on the Internet since I was a kid and I've learnt the difference between "bad" and "good" websites, not to fall for scams or harmful downloads etc.

I can see the side to both these arguments, I suppose it's your call. It also depends what age your child is. If you are going to let him on the Internet unsupervised, install a logging software that logs the Internet activity and then go from there...

Anyway, it's nice to know kids are already getting excited by the Raspi.

Gonna go give myself a pat on the back - that's the longest forum post I've ever made! :D

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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:49 pm

Here's an interesting way - if you're going to teach kids programming, instead of making them use a horrid IDE to make scripts or games. Give them a chance to leard "hard" code. I would've loved to do that in my Electronics ICT class. But, we're forced to use the horrid flow-chat rubbish in Elec. and Dreamweaver for creating websites in ICT.

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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:55 pm

Hi,

Initially he wasn't interested in the pi or mac when we said he couldn't have the internet in his bedroom.

(SNIPPED)

I just wondered if others had opinions on young children accessing the internet unsupervised?


RE OS/Computer Choice:

I have used Mac OS 10 as my primary work/programming/general use OS for the last five years after a long bout of windows. I also regularly play around with linux, for programming and web development purposes, as well as the coolness factor of a completely open source OS.

I find the two work brilliantly together — OS X can run almost any command line (and many X11) linux apps, and they both natively support many of the same programming languages (Ruby, Python, PHP. OS X comes with a web server ready to go for web development, and has Python installed).

I always preferred the aesthetic and interaction patterns on the mac, and have never found it to be restrictive at all, as far as programming and general usage go (although I seem to be alone in this experience…).

So they'll both work well together. The PI will give him a more low-level experience, closer to the hardware (one of the things it is difficult to do on macs), and any knowledge, as well as most code, can easily be transferred to, and used on, the Mac.

If you get your hands on one of those switcher gadgety things, he could even use the same screen/keyboard/mouse for both, switching seamlessly between the two. Looking at tutorials in safari then trying them out on the pi?

RE Internet Access:
I am 16 and have never been allowed a computer or TV (let alone internet access) in my bedroom. I now keep my iPad there, because I have earned the trust of my parents over the years. I would say this is a good policy — any internet access should happen in a publicly viewable area.

For the record — I am a web developer, competent in various languages and programming techniques, who also has a fairly good understanding of electronics and the lower-level operations of computers (I program PICs in assembly). So don't think that your son needs access to computers in his bedroom in order to become competent and/or excited.

Phew! My longest post here too ;)

Cheers,
Barnaby

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liz
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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:00 pm

Eben and I do not have kids, but we have discussed what we'd do here: no computer or TV in the bedroom (we don't have either in our room; we have other rooms for those things), and internet in a shared part of the house with logs visible to us. We'd also install some home-made blocking software; my feeling is that if a kid is up to circumventing something that Eben's written, he or she is probably old enough to look at boobs.
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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:16 pm

Quote from liz on November 17, 2011, 19:00
my feeling is that if a kid is up to circumventing something that Eben's written, he or she is probably old enough to look at boobs.

That was sort of how the lab techs & lecturers worked at my college. If you could break the security then you were allowed to keep any privs you'd gained (if you could keep them) because they'd go back and enhance the security so you'd have to rebreak it. There were also a few pints riding on the success/failure each time too

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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:19 pm

Nothing like boobs and pints to act as a spur to learn how to hack, I say.
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tufty
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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:53 pm

Coming at it from the other side, I have 2 kids, aged 11 and 6. The 11 year old has access to the internet, largely unsupervised, and I have absolutely no "kiddie firewall filtering" installed. I do, however, have extensive access logging and a copy of wireshark, and he is well aware that I use both from time to time to "make sure", and that I *will* rap him over the knuckles if necessary. That said, he doesn't have a lot of time to bugger about on the 'net - between homework, hockey practice, mountain biking and skiing, there's hardly time to breathe.

Explain, demonstrate, supervise, trust was the approach I took. Supervision is "occasional" now (but don't tell him that). I'm not overly worried about him finding some boobs on the net, to be honest. I'd be more disturbed if I found him reading the "Daily Mail" website :)

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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:05 pm

My child is less than a year old, and I don't really beleave in having TV in the bedroom. Mine dosn't have one. When I grew up it was a simple scale of economics, no middle class family could afford to have a second TV and a computer was $2600 to $3000 so two of them was not going to happen. And the internet wasn't really avalible until I was about 16 years old and back then you had a minutes limit and it was slow 14.4k.

Things are different now, and by the time my kid grows up some they will be vastly different. At some point it will be near impossible to keep the internet from your child. Even if you want to supervise them. My router is fairly robust and I can set rules on it to regulate where they go, and what times they can use it. However, 10 or 15 years from now it may all be cell network based and I may not have that control. Devices will get cheaper and your children may be able to attain self contained browsing devices with little money without your knowlege at some point.

I would just do your best to protect them from the nastyness that can be avalible on the internet. Make them aware of the types of people out there and the kind of crap they will try and pull. But realize in the end that if they are smart enough they will circumvent your restrictions and in my opinion it is best they be perpared for reality than to find out behind your back.

I hope my child loves programming like I do, but everyone is an individual and if she dosn't care for it I won't force it on her.

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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:08 pm

If they wanted to see boobs, they`d just buy the Sun or the Star! lol

I`m assuming that the SUN/Star still do page 3? :)

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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:15 pm

I'd be more disturbed if I found him reading the "Daily Mail" website

Ha ha ha ha :D

That's the trick — keep (or keep them) so busy they have no time to do pointless things. Work(ed/s) for me!

Barnaby

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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:17 pm

IMHO, it's not just an issue of whether or not a parent considers adult images appropriate for under-aged kids, it's a matter of extending everyday parenting in realspace to cyberspace. If I'm not going to let my child go into some random person's house because they have children, then I'm not going to let my children have unadulterated access to social sites or forums, which means I wouldn't let them squirrel away in their room and do whatever they want online.

And there was that news story just a couple days ago of the 10 year old who committed suicide because of bullying. It's bad enough if a kid was bullied at all, but I want to make sure they're not being digitally bullied under my own roof! Which isn't to say I'd sit behind them 24/7 every time they're online, but that, like Liz, it's just a good idea to keep it out in a central location. It being in the open encourages openness, letting them be alone encourages them to keep it to themselves.

Of course there are always exceptions, but I'm referring to the general situation on the whole... IMHO ;)
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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Fri Nov 18, 2011 7:48 am

It's a difficult balance to make. Parenting is all about guiding children into maturity, and with no trust and no freedom there can be no maturity. So it comes down to "how much freedom to give at what point", and that varies from child to child (and parent to parent). There's no one "right answer" (but plenty of wrong ones). I work on the principle of "prepare and support", which I think is probably the most sane way of doing it.

I'm certainly less worried about online (or, indeed, offline) paedophiles than I am about the more mundane and far more likely issues of bullying (online or offline, had to deal with that one recently), kids wandering across hardcore porn, or even just falling into truly "adult" discussions (after all, on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog^H^H^Hkid).

Simon

BTW, am I the only one who finds it ironic that we're discussing "adult content" in a thread entitled "Getting Kids Excited..."?

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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:26 am

BTW, am I the only one who finds it ironic that we're discussing "adult content" in a thread entitled "Getting Kids Excited..."?

No, it made me chuckle, although it is a serious subject which can also affect adult relationships. Thanks for the good advice everyone. It will be interesting to see how much use the mac gets in his bedroom without the internet.

To get back on track, the whole raspberry pi thing has kick started a buzz in our household before it has even arrived. My lad now wants to be a hacker like every crime fighting team has on the telly. We wondered if there are any "hacking" games for kids to play offline?

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Re: Getting Kids Excited...

Fri Nov 18, 2011 11:00 am

More than boobs, bullying and stalking, what my brother is complaining about is that the more time his 6yo son spends in front of a screen (TV or PC), the more hyper he becomes. He's instituted "no-screen" every other day, and reports that no-screen days = small arguments about tomorrow being a much better day for no-screen, just this once ? ; screen day = bigger arguments about anything and everything, and harder time finding sleep.
YMMV with different kids, maybe ? I have just the one in the study :-p

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