Archive for July, 2014


Elementary school programming

July 30, 2014

An listener (Mike) is working on starting a program for a local elementary school that introduces Engineering with a main focus on programming and electronics. He wanted to know if I had any suggestions.

For programming for almost any age, Scratch is awesome. It can be web based or on a Raspberry Pi. It is very well design to introduce programming concepts (and it is fun to make little movies of avatars). I’ve used it for 2nd graders (and 11th graders).

For 3rd-6th grade, Minecraft is a good way to get some kids interested in programming, they end up wanting to run their own servers and create worlds. (Though it tends to be a bit boy-centric. My godsons have adored it since they were in 2nd and 4th grade (now they are 5th and 7th)).

For electronics, the LightUp system is pretty intuitive and very neat to play with. They have kindergarten stories. The kits are a bit expensive and they are only from MakerShed (big kits aren’t available yet).

In the meantime, I have a friend who picks up Snap Circuits at garages sales. His 5 year old is building amazing things (making mods on the existing plans already!). I haven’t played with those but am amused by the pics I’ve seen.

So what would you suggest?


Email: NaNoWriMo

July 27, 2014

Friday at lunch, I mentioned NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month). It isn’t until November but I admit I sketched out my outline starting in August.

They do the “contest” as a fundraiser, raising money for libraries in distant lands. It is free though they ask for donations. They supply support, forums, local meetups, and some prizes if you finish (one was a radio station that would let you read a chapter, another was coupons for getting books printed at a self publishing site).

It was fun. More importantly, it made me confident I could write a book when the time came that I wanted to do a real one.