Confession: I know nothing – NOTHING – about coding. I’m still stuck in the glory days of the “if/thens” of my original Apple IIe, circa 1983. And I barely knew how to do anything past whatever I copied verbatim from Byte. I never got that right either. I don’t think. Ever. I remember staying up all night to do a Thundercats hi-res game. Tried to run it at 4am. Nothing. No Lion-O, no Cheetarah, no Snarf... NOTHING. Thus began a life of failure. BUT. I did not want my kids to suffer that same fate. Especially because it is now a presidential mandate that all kids must learn to code. And code they shall.
Kano is built on a simple idea: If kids can piece together Legos, then why not a whole computer? So they not only have a tactile experience in the building of the thing, but more importantly, they take ownership. Have a hands on experiece with their computer, and know it inside and out. My kids opened the cleverly packaged Kano box and had their machines up and running in about 45 minutes. The directions are sort of similar to Lego directions. Very simple, very easy to understand, and I’ll be damned... these boys, ages 7 and 9, were coding within the hour.
The computer itself comes with a Rasberry Pi brain, all the necessary cables, a keyboard, instructions and stickers to personalize the experience. It comes loaded with a bunch of different apps: Minecraft, Scratch, hack old school Pong, hack Snake, and many other great things, all with an eye towards hacking, coding and exploring. Read the rest
ScratchJr is a simple, free, tablet based programming language kids can use to make simple games and animations. The Official ScratchJr Book has been a great guide for my daughter and I.
I first heard about Scratch, when one of our attendees gave a brief show-and-tell on it at Boing Boing's Weekend of Wonder. It sounded pretty accessible. It came to mind again when recently, in an attempt to get my daughter to use the iPad for more than watching Bratayley, I decided to try and interest her in creating something. She loves art, but Minecraft was far too confusing for her and I was looking for another kid-friendly programming option. ScratchJr is a tablet based, even simpler version of Scratch, installing was as easy as any other app.
The Official ScratchJr Book does a great job, with friendly illustrations, of walking us through the basics. My daughter prefers the painting and drawing of characters, and backgrounds, to the organization of blocks, but the book did a great job of walking us through it all. Having gone through the book together, once, she can now refer to it one her own, if she runs into a problem. Generally, her problem is me grabbing the tablet and adding things.
I am not going to tell you we've made high art, but I think I could throw together a decent 1980's King's Quest parody.
The Official ScratchJr Book: Help Your Kids Learn to Code via Amazon Read the rest
In this beginner friendly book, called Learn to Program with Minecraft, you will learn how to do cool things in Minecraft using the Python programming language. No prior programming experience is needed. Author Craig Richardson shows you how to install Python (it's free) on your Mac, PC, or Raspberry Pi. The book has step-by-step instructions to show you how to teleport your character, create palaces and other structures with a few lines of code, stack blocks, duplicate villages and geography, and a lot more.
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The Website Obesity Crisis, Maciej Ceglowski's (previously) Web Directions talk, documents the worsening epidemic of web-site bloat, and dissects the causes.
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Every other week, it seems, an exciting new discovery crops up in a distant star system. The latest is Wolf 1061c, the closest Earth-like world yet found, barely a probe's throw away at 14 light years. But this got me thinking: which is the least interesting exoplanet yet discovered?
To my inexpert eye, OGLE 2005 BLG-390Lb looks like a terrifically boring world. Though it was scientifically interesting early in the exoplanetary race due to its tiny size and vast distance from Planet Earth, this merely makes it the Rand Paul of planets.
It's at least 18,000 light years away, so we're not getting there until we can reach billions of other, more interesting worlds. And when someone does get there, they'll find what appears to be rocky blob well out of its star's habitable zone.
It's covered in abundant elements such as ammonia and nitrogen, all frozen solid because it's so cold. Its star is believed to be a red dwarf, which is to say, very boring in its own right.
"I wish I'd had a chance to visit OGLE 2005 BLG-390Lb," no-one will ever say.
But I could, of course, be completely wrong. I'm not an astronomer, after all. Tell us in the comments which exoplanet you are most bored by!
Previously: Extremely mundane places in Minecraft. Read the rest
Earlier this fall, Pew released the results of a new survey
documenting how digital networks are key to how teens connect with friends. What was most striking was the gender disparity. Girls socialize via text and social media, and boys tend to connect with friends through video games.
It's that time of year again! Welcome to Boing Boing's 2015 Gift Guide, where you'll find toys, books, gadgets and many other splendid ideas to humor and harry your friends and family! Scroll down and buy things, mutants!
The developers of Minecraft have created a new tool designed to teach coding to kids—but it has a lot to offer grown-up newbies, too.
LA Makerspace co-founder Tara Tiger Brown shares a project that her kid-friendly maker workshop is trying to make a reality.
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Tara Tiger Brown is the founder of nonprofit organization LA Makerspace, the premier STEAM service provider for the Los Angeles Public Library. She’s also the co-founder of Kithub, creative electronics kits for kids, and co-founder of Connected Camps, which has online camps for kids including a Minecraft coding club.
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Read about the surprising role games are playing in sustaining symphony orchestras, one woman's struggle in a toxic industry, and how a player discovered their sexuality in Borderlands.
As I continue to search for a Halloween costume, I thought the kids might be more familiar with a Minecraft creeper!
A couple years back, Cory shared this DIY creeper costume. I don't have that level of commitment, but for $13 this might be a lot easier to wear than the Stay Puft Marshmallow man I've been considering.
My daughter finds minecraft a bit tough, I'm told its the version she is playing and I/we should try another. I wonder if she'll enjoy this...
Minecraft Box Heads, Creeper via Amazon Read the rest
Margaret writes, "Esteemed NYC game-maker Kevin Cancienne (part of the team behind highly adored Drop 7) is launching Home Free, an utterly unique dog exploration game. It's Minecraft, but you're a dog, and everything's beautiful."
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At the beginning of the summer my son Ronan, age 12, and I built him his first high-powered gaming PC. Me being a dad and all, I did so happily, but with one proviso -- he’d have to dedicate time every day to learning a programming language. He was slightly sceptical of this, having taken a few less-than-interesting intro to programming classes in the past. Prepared for this, I recommended that we enroll him in Youth Digital’s comprehensive Java course called Minecraft Server Desgin 1. This got his full attention, as he had dreams of creating his own custom servers and gameplay modes to host Minecraft sessions with his friends.
We signed him up and dove in. Our immediate impression was that site and course are smartly designed and easy to navigate. All material is introduced through clear, well-produced, often funny videos that didn’t talk down him, but instead did a great job of walking him through new concepts, then pausing while he took pop quizzes and did hands-on coding exercises.
The course includes a year of server hosting, 24-hour tech support (that was fast and helpful the few times he’s needed it), and perhaps best of all, a browser-based integrated development environment (IDE) for editing the game, player, and team Java files. Within this Codenvy IDE (Windows and OSX only), you can launch the updated server with one button, which makes it fast to test code and correlate newly learned concepts with the “real world” Minecraft results.
He chose one of the four pre-built maps, learned to modify the default server file description text, whitelisted a few friend, and launched his Minecraft server within the first hour of instruction. Read the rest
Nathan Pryor (HaHaBird) made this fantastic life-sized illuminated Minecraft block for his son's birthday. It's lit with RGB LEDs so the color can be changed via remote control. Read the rest