Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Are you listening, pig?

I'd just like to share some recommendations that are all connected by the theme of visual and concrete computing. In the last few years I've become more and more convinced that (in the United States at least) our educational system is almost completely failing to provide adequate skills in computing - both the theory and practice of computer science. This is sad because I think there are many fun and interesting ways to learn about programming, logic, and algorithms. Here are some examples:

1. LOGO. When I was in elementary school I was exposed to Logo, a very visual platform for learning programming. If you have a child, make sure you check out an implementation and show your kid. No matter what computer you have, its almost certain that there are several free Logo programs for it.

2. Similar in spirit to Logo, but maybe more fun and less deep is the game Light-Bot at Armor Games. You can drag and drop visual program elements to write a program that instructs a robot to complete a variety of puzzles. Very fun, well done.

3. There are novels that glamorize hackers and computing to some extent, but nothing I've seen compares to the plot in Souls in the Great Machine by Sean McMullen. The plot is brilliant and complicated, but all you need to know is that they enslave all the mathematicians to create a giant human computer.

4. I was reminded of Eyes of the Calculor by this fantastic video on youtube. The creator has implemented a gigantic arithmetic unit within the virtual Minecraft environment. He mentions he was inspired by the book The Elements of Computing Systems: Building a Modern Computer from First Principles. I hadn't heard of that before but I will definitely take a look. If you watch the video you'll get the title of this post.


Mme Emery said...

Sounds like some good games to point Bryan towards...he is computer/game obsessed at the moment, but not real interested in the theory of it all. We'll check it out!

Devin said...

hmm cool, I think the entire system is way too expensive by its pure structure; of course the university doesnt help owning everything