The Door to the Information Age: Note to Parents

Hands-On  I.T.!
K-8 Information Technology Course

Level 1: The Door to the Information Age
Programming • Problem-Solving • Applied Mathematics

Note to Parents

A New Kind of Computer Course: I.T. Education

Your child is participating in a pilot program for a new, Second Wave, computer and information technology course. In First Wave computer education, children ended up sitting passively before the computer playing  prepackaged “edutainment” software games and clicking on icons—the computer programming the child, some said, rather than the other way around! Continue reading

Robot Project-Challenge 1: Knock Over the Towers

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ow4EnGbbkqg]
Teach Roamer to Knock Over the Towers!
Jon & Dave, two first graders, explore DISTANCE and LIMIT (while learning Roamer’s simple PROGRAMMING SYNTAX) as they conquer the 1st Challenge of the year:
Teach Roamer™ to Knock Over All 3 Towers.
(But Stay in Bounds!)
On their 2nd trial they knock over tower No. 1 using:
CM CM ^6 steps GO!


Math Skills & Concepts in Challenge 1.1: Estimation (distance); Units (Roamer-steps); Number Sense (magnitude, sequence); and more….

Problem-Solving Skills & Concepts: Introduction to Active Problem Solving (teacher gives children learning goals, then gives them the resources, coaching, and free time they need to achieve these goals on their own); Introduction to Scientific Method (write guess; test & learn from results)

Programming Skills & Concepts: Intro to Commands (actions & symbols: CM = Clear Memory; CM CM = Start Over; ^ = forward; GO = Do it!); Syntax Lesson 1 (Word Order: Start Over -> Action -> HowFar/Much/Many? -> Do It!)

Math & Science Olympics!

• Let’s Get Our Kids in the Game!

What is a Project “Challenge-Tree”?

Roamer_Project_Tree_1

Challenge Tree (Noun): Visual Goal-Setting & Planning Tool Designed to Promote Independent Learning and 21st Century Learning Skills: Competence, Confidence, and Creativity (the Problem-Solving Habit).projecttree164

Visual Learning Paths, showing each child a “prepared path” to excellence, are important tools for developing both creativity & confidence. As a child and his or her group successfully solve one Project-Challenge, they may move “up the tree” to the next, seeing their power (their competence and confidence in themselves as I.T. problem-solvers) grow with each step along the upward path. As that power increases, children can “follow their wonder”— their own interests & talents—out onto the “branches” of the Project Tree, where they will find Optional projects that extend core I.T. skills and concepts into such areas as Art, Music, Language Arts, Science, & Mathematics.

The Calendar-Checklist aspect of Project Trees allows children to come
to class every day knowing what Project-Challenges are ahead, and knowing where they are on the “prepared paths” to excellence. It allows them to learn, as part of the I.T. problem-solving curriculum, how to identify problems, and how to plan, schedule, and carry out a plan of attack to solve them—all with a minimum of adult oversight.

The Project Trees Calendar-Checklist helps your child learn, in other words, how to project into the future and see a problem, a Project, or a dream, to completion.

Moscow’s stray dogs-reverse domestication

Wolves stay strictly within their own pack, even if they share a territory with another. A pack of dogs, however, can hold a dominant position over other packs and their leader will often “patrol” the other packs by moving in and out of them. His observations have led Poyarkov to conclude that this leader is not necessarily the strongest or most dominant dog, but the most intelligent – and is acknowledged as such. The pack depends on him for its survival.

Moscow’s strays sit somewhere between house pets and wolves, says Poyarkov, but are in the early stages of the shift from the domesticated back towards the wild. That said, there seems little chance of reversing this process. It is virtually impossible to domesticate a stray: many cannot stand being confined indoors.

“Genetically, wolves and dogs are almost identical,” says Poyarkov. “What has changed significantly [with domestication] is a range of hormonal and behavioural parameters, because of the brutal natural selection that eliminated many aggressive animals.” He recounts the work of Soviet biologist Dmitri Belyaev, exiled from Moscow in 1948 during the Stalin years for a commitment to classical genetics that ran counter to state scientific doctrine of the time.

Under the guise of studying animal physiology, Belyaev set up a Russian silver fox research centre in Novosibirsk, setting out to test his theory that the most important selected characteristic for the domestication of dogs was a lack of aggression. He began to select foxes that showed the least fear of humans and bred them. After 10-15 years, the foxes he bred showed affection to their keepers, even licking them. They barked, had floppy ears and wagged their tails. They also developed spotted coats – a surprising development that was connected with a decrease in their levels of adrenaline, which shares a biochemical pathway with melanin and controls pigment production.

“With stray dogs, we’re witnessing a move backwards,” explains Poyarkov. “That is, to a wilder and less domesticated state, to a more ‘natural’ state.” As if to prove his point, strays do not have spotted coats, they rarely wag their tails and are wary of humans, showing no signs of ­affection towards them.

via FT.com / Reportage – Moscow’s stray dogs.

via FT.com / Reportage – Moscow’s stray dogs.