logo-easter We spent the long Easter weekend, lazing happily indoors since the weather did not permit going out. I wondered if the time could have been spent better, and started researching if my older daughter is old enough to start programming.

Little background

My daughter will soon be six and she can use the computer very well for the usual tasks and I think she is a bit ahead of the curve, but that might just be a father speaking 🙂

The big bottleneck, I see, is her poor English skills. English not being our native tongue and she going to a German kindergarten, has limited her knowledge of English to a few words and phrases. Thus reading and writing code is going to be a challenge.

Visual programming

Given the language ‘handicap’, I started looking out for what the best way to visually teach programming, which does not involve much reading and writing. A little research resulted in 3 options, 2 of which are old and I had come across and one that is pretty new.Continue reading

I was trying to explain paper-recycling to my daughter, then thought it is best we do it together. Thus came about a weekend project to make paper from waste papers. Although the end result was not that great, I think she understood the concepts.

She was super excited and did most of the steps herself, including taking the pictures.

Here is a pictorial guide to making your own ‘hand-made’ paper.

photo_verybig_110295[1]With Copenhagen behind us, it makes me wonder is there something we as individuals do to help the climate? On one such thought tangent I wondered if it possible to teach kids about climate using a simulation game like Civilisation? On cursory search I could not find anything that could entertain and educate kids.

What would it be?

An empire building game that needs to balance technology, way of life and climate to achieve sustainable conditions. The players will need to move from stone age to iron age to industrial age to knowledge age. All this is well covered by games in the Civilisation series. The difference is, to advance in the technology tree, they will need to consume resources and they need to understand that resources are limited and that consuming them is not without consequences.

Learning

A game that will show the interdependence of several factors like:

  • Exploitation of natural resources (wood, coal, oil, gold, diamonds, animals, fishes etc)  for technical progress and their costs in terms of environmental impact
  • The long term implication of the such impact
  • Investing in technology to achieve sustainable development
  • Also the flip side of not consuming natural resources and it impact on growth and empire building
  • The need to consume resources to ‘unlock’ next levels of technical innovation
  • Trading of resources amongst empires which have surplus of something
  • I would probably underplay the option of war and more of foreign trade as a means to acquire scarce resources.

What next?

I am not a game developer so wouldn’t know how to get about doing it. But may be some like minded people will come together and look at it. Maybe Freeciv can provide a starting point. Maybe it even becomes successful and makes some money for the creators.

This is what my daughter has to say about my home computers:

Papa, ever since you made the computer a laptop, it misbehaves and crashes. Please make it a computer again!

Read computer = Ubuntu and laptop = Windows. My desktop ran Ubuntu for a long time until I installed Win7 on it. My laptop always had WinXP as shipped by the manufacturer. My daughter prefers Ubuntu to Windows, looks like I am raising a Linux fangirl 🙂

I wonder if Scott Hanselman will publish this on http://www.overheardathome.com