Kano Computer Kit – If kids can put together Legos, then why not a whole computer?

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

How to help get guitars and instruction into the hands of inner-city and at-risk youth

MUSACK's goal is simple: get guitars and instruction into the hands of inner-city and at-risk youth. It's not about turning kids into rock stars. If it happens, great... hope they remember us. Our foundation wants to afford kids a platform to say "I exist. I'm here. I have something to say." In a world where school systems are seeing record breaking budgetary shortfalls, we're trying to pick up the slack in a real, feet on the ground, grass roots way. You want to learn how to play? We'll give you what you need.

Oddly, we started in Nantucket, of all places, 5 years ago when our charity founder, Donick Cary (writer on Parks and Recreation, The Simpsons, and Letterman), who was born and raised in Nantucket, noticed an alarming rise in suicide and drug abuse in the year-round community. Nantucket is a great place during the summer months, but in the off season, those that live there, largely an immigrant service population, suffer brutal isolating harsh winters. With little else to do, a large portion of youth on the island resort to drugs and despair. So Donick started MUSACK as a way out. More a community destination than a "school" per se, we made a deal with the kids: Show up regularly and we will give you everything you need to succeed. And it's been pretty amazing. In the 5 years since we've started, we've put some 150+ kids through our Nantucket program and this year marks the opening of four (working on five) locations in the Los Angeles area in inner-city areas that desperately need our help. Read the rest

A campaign to place Little Free Libraries in police departments

How the Little Free Library aims to establish and rebuild the relationship between police and the community