There’s a fun way to code!

Breen, Derek. Scratch for Kids for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2015. Print.

From the well-known “Dummies” series, this 371-page book teaches kids in grades 5-8 how to program using Scratch, a very popular and free programming language, where kids can create their own interactive stories, games, and animations. Using mostly color illustrations in an easy-to-follow format, this instructional guide is perfect for beginners. Kids will learn how to create games, stories, and animations.

Find it at your local library or buy a copy of the book here.

Kids can learn the basics of coding without a computer

"We’ve found another book to help get kids interested in programming:

Liukas, Linda. Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding. New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2015. Print.

Kids in grades K-3 will learn the basic concepts of coding when they read this 112-page fiction hardcover book filled with color illustrations. No computer is needed as kids practice programming concepts through exercises and activities, while learning about stories about Ruby and her adventurous friends. Find it at your local library or buy a copy of the book here.

How to introduce kids to the concept of programming

Here’s another book to help spark kids’ interest in programming:

Bueno, Carlos. Lauren Ipsum: A Story about Computer Science and Other Improbable Things. San Francisco, CA: No Starch Press, 2014. Print.

This fiction book will appeal to kids in grades 5-8, who may not feel comfortable diving head-first into computer programming. Containing some illustrations in color, this 183-page paperback is a story about a young girl who is lost and can only find her way back home by applying logic and problem solving skills. Along the way, she uses various computer science-related concepts, including algorithms, probability, and decoding. Find it at your local library or buy a copy of the book here.

How to get your kids interested in coding

Sometimes kids need to be tricked into liking something. This holds true with education too. We’ve found some books to introduce kids to the concept of programming. Here’s one book to help spark their interest:

Yang, Gene Luen., and Mike Holmes. Secret Coders. (Secret Coders, Vol. 1.). New York: First Second, 2015. Print.

This graphic novel contains 91 pages of mostly color illustrations and is available in hardcover and paperback. The first of three volumes, this book is about a mystery that must be solved using clues and puzzles, using the characters’ coding skills. This book is a great alternative for visual learners in grades 3-6 to learn about computer programming.

Find it at your local library or buy a copy of the book here!

Installing WordPress on Raspberry Pi3

little_piLearn to set up a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack on your Raspberry Pi and configure it to work as a web server. You’ll download and install WordPress and set up a basic website which you can access on any device on the same network as your Pi.

We followed these directions, but came across a few problems:

  1. If you are in the U.S., the Raspberry Pi keyboard settings will need to be changed by using these commands: sudo nano /etc/default/keyboard and change the XKBLAYOUT from “gb” to “us.” Then type: sudo reboot.
  2. When changing the Permalinks to “Post name,” these directions are wrong: “You’ll also need to tell the virtual host serving the site to allow requests to be overwritten. Do this by editing the virtual host file (with root permissions): sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/default" The file that needs to be edited is found in the /etc/apache2/apache2.conf: sudo nano /etc/apache2/apache2.conf. Make your edits and then type: sudo service apache2 restart
  3. We were unable to use control/v to paste. You have to use shift/control/v.

Learn how to program with Raspberry Pi

little_piThe Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It is a capable little device that enables people of all ages to explore computing, and to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python. It’s capable of doing everything you’d expect a desktop computer to do, from browsing the internet and playing high-definition video, to making spreadsheets, word-processing, and playing games.

What’s more, the Raspberry Pi  has the ability to interact with the outside world, and has been used in a wide array of digital maker projects, from music machines and parent detectors to weather stations and tweeting birdhouses with infra-red cameras.

Coding with Finch Robots

finchThe Finch is a new robot for computer science education. Its design is the result of a four year study at Carnegie Mellon’s CREATE lab.

The Finch is designed to support an engaging introduction to the art of programming. It has support for over a dozen programming languages and environments, including several environments appropriate for students as young as eight years old.

The Finch was designed to allow students to write richly interactive programs. On-board features include:

  • Light, temperature, and obstacle sensors
  • Accelerometers
  • Motors
  • Buzzer
  • Full-color beak LED
  • Pen mount for drawing capability
  • Plugs into USB port – no batteries required

The Finch is manufactured under license from Carnegie Mellon University.