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Issue 6.6


Educational Programming

Introducing kids to programming with REALbasic

Issue: 6.6 (September/October 2008)
Author: Will Phillips
Author Bio: Will Phillips serves as both President and Chief Programmer of The Highly Technical Doohickey Company and is therefore forced to register complaints with himself about low pay and meager benefits.
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 12,092
Starting Page Number: 13
Article Number: 6608
Resource File(s):

Download Icon 6608.zip Updated: 2008-09-01 13:52:00

Related Link(s): None

Excerpt of article text...

As I was sitting on our back porch working on a REALbasic project, my daughter wandered outside and asked what I was doing. I decided I couldn't explain to a seven-year-old why I was so interested in the client/server system I was developing. So I just said "I'm teaching the computer how to do something new."

You have to understand that this kid, like so many of her contemporaries, is already an impressively proficient computer user. She uses and understands phrases like "the server must be down," and "I think I will reboot." (When I was her age, the TRS-80 hadn't yet arrived on the scene and I was using phrases more like "they will never invent anything cooler than Stretch Armstrong-AE." I note for the record that this statement is, in fact, true.) But it hadn't occurred to her that there was a world beyond being a user.

So, when I told her that I was teaching the computer to do something new, she looked a little confused and then gradually amazed. "You can teach them to do new things?" she said in a tone of disbelief.

I created a new project, explained a few basic points, and we worked for a few minutes to create the very simple "the computer speaks whatever text is in an editfield when a pushbutton is pressed" program. Do not underestimate the effect upon a child of hearing a computer speak his or her name for the first time.

Since she enjoyed that small project I recently proposed that we come up with another, slightly more sophisticated project that we could work on together for a while. A little later I will describe what we did, but it's worthwhile to begin with a few suggestions for working with kids on a project like this. Note that these rules apply to projects outside of REALbasic too.

The Suggestions

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