Howardism Musings from my Awakening Dementia
My collected thoughts flamed by hubris
Home PageSend Comment

Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.

—Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
My Course

Interested in teaching children software programming? I have a 6-week course that you are more than welcome to use and adapt.

Conference Talk

Check out my slides (and my planned "talk") for the session I gave at OSCON 2009 in San Jose.

Programming for Children

I help out with the after school clubs at my daughter's elementary school. Instead of my previous chess club, I've been teaching a Scratch Club.

If you haven't played with Scratch, you should. Quite the joy to play. I described the club in the school newsletter in the following way:

Storytelling on the Computer

Have you wanted to illustrate your stories in a new way? How about using the computer to tell that story? We will help you show that story of The Pink Unicorn and the Fairy in a whole new light. This class consists of using the Scratch system to illustrate and animate stories.

I wrote this to encourage girls to attend.

There is a large disparity between men and women in engineering and science-related fields. Sure, women may not be interested, but in other countries, the difference isn't so pronounced. Studies are suggesting that it may be a situation that can be addressed in younger grades… hence my ploy to teach programming to girls. (BTW: I just love Engineer Girl and Engineer Your Life sites).

In my first club, I ended up with 4 boys and 9 girls, and on the first day, it was the girls that understood Scratch and were really excited. I kept hearing whispers of "This is so cool" and afterwards, the girls were talking about downloading and installing Scratch on their computers when they got home.

After my initial club, the word got out, and the boys aren't dissuaded by unicorns anymore. A tip of the hat to Mitch Resnick and the team at the Lifelong Kindergarten at MIT Media Lab for doing a great job at building Scratch.

New Ways for Teaching Children Software Programming
My proposal to this summer's OSCON conference. Wanna attend?

Scratch Club
The presentations and support materials for my 6 week course on Software Programming for Children