Sunday, December 22, 2013

Spending Time Coding With My Granddaughter

     Part of my job as a family genealogist is to pass down stories of my life.  So I am taking a detour today.  And spending some time with my granddaughter.
     The other day, I came across an email that was publicizing a campaign to teach computer coding to the young and old.  I wrote my first computer program back in the 60s when we were using punch cards and computers were the size of rooms.  Long Beach State had a single class devoted to computers. It was listed in the math department.  When I started teaching, only a couple people knew anything about computers so I was drafted to teach computer programming.  The students wrote some good software but computers were still limited compared to what can be accomplished today.  Then the funding changed and computer classes were dropped.   Then they started up.  Later they were dropped again. When they decided a few years later to start back up, I begged off and stuck with my math classes. But I had written some software to calculate grade for my classes and students liked knowing where they stood after every assignment. (They also didn't argue about their grades because a computer never lies.)  I should have been smarter because years later all schools were buying software to keep track of grades. Who knows, maybe I could have been computer mogul during the dot com boom. 
     When I got my first personal computer (an IBM with 128K of memory) I wrote a few programs but I started focusing on software that might help my classroom instruction.  Occasionally, I would play around with HTML but nothing serious.
     Some twenty-five years on down the road the capabilities of computers have changed but the logic I always used is still valid.  So I decided to try out this new Hour of code campaign.
     Since the lessons were written for a wide audience, I realized that my granddaughter wouldn't have any difficulty going through the lessons.  So after school Abbey and I sat down and in no time Abbey was teaching the zombie to move around the maze. 

Later we taught the bot how to move around and turn on all of the lights.

The next time I get together with Abbey our task will be to make a Christmas card.  Here is one that I put together for Abbey.  

Tree For Abbey

Made using: Khan Academy Computer Science.

    I always thought that the logic necessary to program a computer would help young people in math and science, particularly Geometry.  But maybe that is an old math teacher talking.  The coding website claims that when Abbey and I finish the lessons we should be able to code an App for the iPad.   We shall see.    Even if we don't write any Apps we will have had fun together.

To try coding yourself try this link. 

Made using: Khan Academy Computer Science.

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