Saturday, November 30, 2013

Comparison Shopping for Domestic Robots

A great many folks out there still seem to think of  robots as things of 'The Future.' Or perhaps, their understanding is that robots are actually here right now, but to be found in exotic locations like automobile manufacturing plants, NASA facilities, and the like. Guess again! Not only are robots close to home currently, but they are so much in evidence that one not only is confronted with the choice of whether or not to acquire one, but which one to buy. In fact, some serious comparison shopping for robots will be a part of our lives soon.

Below are some promotional videos for household window and mirror cleaning robots. Which one would you buy for your home? Why choose that one?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kids Learn Programming with Robot Turtles Game

Here's a most interesting video and article about a new game, presented here as appropriate for young children (although it could be used by just about anyone).

In the very beginning of the use of  computers in the  classroom people reflexively thought that what kids should do would be to build their own computers and/or learn to program computers. When folks like myself came on the scene a few years later, we argued hard that this was a foolish approach, wasteful of the true potential for computing in Education, which would be to support thinking, research, communicating, etc. We reasoned that, if by analogy, the point of motor vehicles in Education was to get students  from point A to point B (to school, to the museum, to the library, etc.) why would students benefit from understanding how a car or  bus works? how to repair and maintain them? design them? (other, of course, than for that very small  group of students who would  actually go into the Automotive Industry)... Part of our aversion to this approach was due to the very obvious, heavy investment in time, effort, and resources needed for students to learn to build, repair,  and program computers. As of late, though, a number of items have emerged that make learning to program  practical and easy to learn... the LEGO Robotics systems - NXT and WeDo, chief among them... but there are others that continue to emerge. The Robot Turtles Game is an approach that seems practical and worthwhile.

By the way, why should kids learn to program? That's a long discussion, but clearly programming is all about thinking clearly, problem solving, and communication... in the extreme! Aren't those things that schools should foster? If you can add a large dosage of FUN to the equation, it's win/win!


"Robot Turtles Is A Board Game Designed By A Googler To Teach Kids Core Coding Principles"

"There are plenty of online resources aimed at teaching kids coding but here's an offline take that uses old school gamification to get kids engaged and learning programming principles while they're having some good old-fashioned family fun (as board game makers used to put it, in the 1980s). Robot Turtles is a board game designed by entrepreneur and CEO of Google Comparison Dan Shapiro - currently on leave from the day job so he can work on cool projects like this.
The board game is designed to teach basic programming principles via a series of instruction cards which move the players' pieces (turtles) around the board. The basic object of the game is for players to navigate a maze and capture jewels but the gameplay is sneakily teaching them core coding fundamentals, such as using limited syntax to express complex ideas, getting a grasp on order of operations, and learning debugging by being able to undo instructions when they make mistakes. In other words: essential coding skills.
The game also builds in more sophisticated gameplay layers by letting kids graduate from playing one instruction card at a time..."

Read the full article at its source: