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Computational Tinkering
The impact of computational thinking on our view of the world
Curated by Susan Einhorn
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Using Technology to Improve Mathematical Intelligence - Huffington Post

The role of technology in fostering mathematical and logical intelligence is obvious in that technology is built on the same mathematical principles and logic that drive life itself. The ancestors of modern digital gadgets -- Pascal's and Leibniz's mechanical calculating machines, Napier's logarithms, Babbage's difference engine, Newman's Colossus and Turing's Bombe -- have all been built on principles of logic and mathematics and in turn support mathematical developments. Jeanette Wing, in a seminal article, states that solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior in real life can be closely related to the concepts fundamental to computer science and technology and coined the term "computational thinking," which must, in addition to reading, writing and arithmetic, be added to every child's education.

Technology can support mathematics education through dynamic software, anchored instruction, networked devices, participatory simulations, games and construction kits. The challenge lies in developing technology that engages students with interesting and stimulating applications of mathematics that are relevant to the real world.

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Why coding is not the new literacy - Quartz

Why coding is not the new literacy - Quartz | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it

Reading and writing gave us external and distributable storage. Coding gives us external and distributable computation. It allows us to offload the thinking we have to do in order to execute some process. To achieve this, it seems like all we need is to show people how to give the computer instructions, but that’s teaching people how to put words on the page. We need the equivalent of composition, the skill that allows us to think about how things are computed. This time, we’re not recording our thoughts, but instead the models of the world that allow us to have thoughts in the first place.


We build mental models of everything—from how to tie our shoes to the way macro-economic systems work. With these, we make decisions, predictions, and understand our experiences. If we want computers to be able to compute for us, then we have to accurately extract these models from our heads and record them. Writing Python isn’t the fundamental skill we need to teach people. Modeling systems is.


Modeling is the new literacy
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New preschool lesson teaches programming theories - UPI.com

New preschool lesson teaches programming theories - UPI.com | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
MIT researchers designed an activity for preschoolers that allows children to use stickers to program a robot named Dragonbot to respond to series of stimuli.


"It's programming in the context of relational interactions with the robot," Edith Ackermann, a developmental psychologist and visiting professor with MIT's Personal Robots Group, said in a press release.

"This is what children do -- they're learning about social relations, Ackermann said. "So taking this expression of computational principles to the social world is very appropriate."


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Outside the Skinner Box

Outside the Skinner Box | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it

We live in a historic moment in which new technologies, with enormous potential for giving agency back to the learner. At the core, these technologies connect timeless craft traditions (learning-by-doing) and remarkable technological progress in a fashion accessible to learners of all ages and affordable for schools.


Programming is a liberal art that should be part of every child’s formal education. The impact of computer science has been felt in nearly every discipline and, if you believe Bill Gates, being able to program has significant vocational benefits as well. However, the primary reason why every child must learn to program is to answer the question Papert began asking in the mid-1960s, “Does the child program the computer or does the computer program the child?” This is a fundamental matter of exerting agency over an increasingly complex, technologically sophisticated world.

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Paul Herring's curator insight, March 9, 7:21 PM

A great article and argument from Gary Stager!
"Schools need a bolder concept of what computing can mean in the creative and intellectual development of young people. Such a vision must be consistent with the educational ­ideals of a school."

Paul Herring's comment, March 9, 7:22 PM
Thanks Susan!
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Creative AI: Algorithms and robot craftsmen open new possibilities in architecture - Gizmag

Creative AI: Algorithms and robot craftsmen open new possibilities in architecture - Gizmag | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it

Algorithms can already produce remarkable architecture of incredible detail, that never would have been possible before computers.

 

Computers have transformed architecture in remarkable ways. They've made it possible to visualize designs in fully-rendered 3D graphics and to automatically check designs against building codes and other standard specifications. And they've made designs possible that were unthinkable or unimaginable 50 years ago, as they can crunch the numbers on complex equations and even generate plans or models from high-level requirements. Architecture, like music, art, games, and written stories can be created algorithmically.

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Hockey And Big Data

Hockey And Big Data | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
Hockey is a naturally aggressive sport, and the casual fan has learned to associate it with violence, the kind that makes the daily sports highlight segment..

 

So what are teams doing to actually produce results? Although the objective is simple, strategies for getting there can vary from team to team. Kyle Dubas, the young assistant GM of the Maple Leafs, created a hockey “research and development” team. It includes a chemical engineer and a mathematician. Their only task is to  apply science and engineering to hockey statistics, resulting in more wins for the team.

 

The convergence of math, computer science, information technology and (as always) the Internet of Things (IoT) will also drive the end result. 

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How Torres Strait Islander Girls Are Learning To Code To Help Their Communities - Gizmodo Australia

How Torres Strait Islander Girls Are Learning To Code To Help Their Communities - Gizmodo Australia | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it

When Aboriginals from the Torres Strait Island need support, they turn to their daughters. No, really. In a culture whose history goes back 50,000 years, 70 young girls are using technology to give their families a new way to call for help in emergencies. Last year, Engineers Without Borders Australia taught a group of students to build an emergency response beacon using basic hardware and some code to transmit a user’s location and distress message via radio.

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Computational Thinking Benefits Society | Social Issues in Computing

Computer science has produced, at an astonishing and breathtaking pace, amazing technology that has transformed our lives with profound economic and societal impact.  Computer science’s effect on society was foreseen forty years ago by Gotlieb and Borodin in their book Social Issues in Computing.  Moreover, in the past few years, we have come to realize that computer science offers not just useful software and hardware artifacts, but also an intellectual framework for thinking, what I call “computational thinking” [Wing06].

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Closing The Computer Science Gap, From Classroom To Career

Closing The Computer Science Gap, From Classroom To Career | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it

My twins will turn four in 2015, and they know more about computers now than I did when I took over as president and CEO of Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) in 2003. And it’s a good thing because currently there are more than 75,000 open jobs in computing in California and only 4,324 computer science graduates to fill them.

In fact, the business and industry research group The Conference Board reports that the demand for computing professionals is four times higher than the demand for all other occupations. Companies across virtually every profession — from business and banking to medicine and law — are hungry for computer-savvy workers.

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Computer Programming Is a Dying Art

Computer Programming Is a Dying Art | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
Writing code is a terrible way for humans to instruct computers. Lucky for us, new technology is about to render programming languages about as useful as Latin.

 

The headlong global frenzy to teach programming in schools is coming about 20 years too late. Boston, New York, Estonia, New Zealand and a whole lot of other places are going crazy for coding courses, egged on by Code.org, which is backed by Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. It’s sacrilegious in tech circles to say so and might get me disinvited to parties with the cast of Silicon Valley, but learning a programming language could turn out to be fruitless for most kids.

 

We’re approaching an interesting transition: Computers are about to get more brainlike and will understand us on our terms, not theirs. The very nature of programming will shift toward something closer to instructing a new hire how to do his or her job, not scratching out lines of C++ or Java.

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Creative Computational Thinking: Problem Solving with Robots in Computing

Creative Computational Thinking: Problem Solving with Robots in Computing | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it

Lawhead et al (2003) stated that robots “…provide entry level programming students with a physical model to visually demonstrate concepts” and “the most important benefit of using robots in teaching introductory courses is the focus provided on learning language independent, persistent truths about programming and programming techniques. Robots readily illustrate the idea of computation as interaction”. Synergies can be made with our work and those one on pre-object programming and simulation of robots for teaching programming as a visual approach to the teaching of the widely used programming language  Java.

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How information moves between cultures

How information moves between cultures | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it

By analyzing data on multilingual Twitter users and Wikipedia editors and on 30 years’ worth of book translations in 150 countries, researchers at MIT, Harvard University, Northeastern University, and Aix Marseille University have developed network maps that they say represent the strength of the cultural connections between speakers of different languages.

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Learning to communicate computationally with Flip: A bi-modal programming language for game creation

Teaching basic computational concepts and skills to school children is currently a curricular focus in many countries. Running parallel to this trend are advances in programming environments and teaching methods which aim to make computer science more accessible, and more motivating. In this paper, we describe the design and evaluation of Flip, a programming language that aims to help 11–15 year olds develop computational skills through creating their own 3D role-playing games. Flip has two main components: 1) a visual language (based on an interlocking blocks design common to many current visual languages), and 2) a dynamically updating natural language version of the script under creation. This programming-language/natural-language pairing is a unique feature of Flip, designed to allow learners to draw upon their familiarity with natural language to “decode the code”. Flip aims to support young people in developing an understanding of computational concepts as well as the skills to use and communicate these concepts effectively. This paper investigates the extent to which Flip can be used by young people to create working scripts, and examines improvements in their expression of computational rules and concepts after using the tool. We provide an overview of the design and implementation of Flip before describing an evaluation study carried out with 12–13 year olds in a naturalistic setting. Over the course of 8 weeks, the majority of students were able to use Flip to write small programs to bring about interactive behaviours in the games they created. Furthermore, there was a significant improvement in their computational communication after using Flip (as measured by a pre/post-test). An additional finding was that girls wrote more, and more complex, scripts than did boys, and there was a trend for girls to show greater learning gains relative to the boys.

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Magic and Computational Thinking

Magic and Computational Thinking | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
Teaching London Computing in conjunction with cs4fn have produced a series of fun activities and booklets based around magic tricks that teach computing topics and computational thinking for use in...

Via Paul Herring
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Free Devices Will Help 1 Million U.K. Students Learn To Code

Coding is the door to the digital future, and kids are holding the key.

On Thursday, the BBC launched a major initiative called Make it Digital that will provide 1 million devices used to teach coding to young students. Every student entering Year 7, mostly kids aged 11 or 12, will receive a device. The program is part of a larger effort to make the U.K. more digitally educated, BBC reported.

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Virtual-reality experiment lets you walk around the Ferguson shooting scene

Virtual-reality experiment lets you walk around the Ferguson shooting scene | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it

This is an interactive experience that explores Michael Brown’s death using a combination of graphic journalism and virtual reality. It allows you to move through an immersive recreation of the Ferguson shooting—and view the events based on eight eyewitness accounts of what happened on August 9th.

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Education reform for computer science | Harvard Magazine Mar-Apr 2015

Jane Margolis’s book Stuck in the Shallow End continues to be one of the few lengthy examinations of how an early section of the pipeline—public K-12 education—creates racial disparities in the field of computer science. Skeptics have dismissed the “coding for all” movement as a faddish boutique reform, myopically market-driven even as it claims to advance children’s problem-solving skills. But as technological innovations drive virtually every industry and shape social spaces online, advocates like Margolis view computational participation as central to the health of democracy. “Computer science can help interrupt the cycle of inequality that has determined who has access to this type of high-status knowledge in our schools,” Margolis and Kafai wrote in The Washington Post last October. “Students who have this knowledge have a jump-start in access to these careers, and they have insight into the nature of innovation that is changing how we communicate, learn, recreate, and conduct democracy.”

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Creative AI: The robots that would be painters - Gizmag

Creative AI: The robots that would be painters - Gizmag | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
Painting might be the last thing you'd expect computers to excel at, but artificial intelligence researchers are proving that computers can in fact generate paintings and other kinds of visual art...
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No-Tech Board Games That Teach Coding Skills to Young Children

No-Tech Board Games That Teach Coding Skills to Young Children | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
Programming for young children gets pared down to its analog basics in several board games that teach sequences of commands.

 

Thanks in part to STEM education initiatives and the tech boom, coding in the classroom has become more ubiquitous. Computer programming tasks students to persistently work to solve problems by thinking logically. What’s more, learning how to code is a desired 21st century career skill.

 

Teaching children how to code is not new; it dates back to the 1970s and 1980s. Most notable, perhaps, are the initiatives from MIT professor Seymour Papert. His MIT lab helped bring theLogo language into schools. In Logo, users programmed a graphical turtle on a computer’s screen. This exemplified Papert’s notion of constructionism, the learning theory that can be summed up as “learn by making.”

Susan Einhorn's insight:

And, as a reminder to all, the Logo initiative not only lives on in Scratch, but is the core of MicroWorlds EX from LCSI the company Papert started.

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How I Found the Optimal Where's Waldo Strategy With Machine Learning - Wired

How I Found the Optimal Where's Waldo Strategy With Machine Learning - Wired | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
I pulled out every machine learning trick in my tool box to compute the optimal search strategy for finding Waldo.

 

This was all done in good humor and—barring a situation where someone puts a gun to your head and forces you to find Waldo faster than their colleague—I don’t recommend actually using this strategy for casual Where’s Waldo? reading. As with so many things in life, the joy of finding Waldo is in the journey, not the destination.

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The Queen Of Code

You probably don’t know the name Grace Hopper, but you should.

As a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, Hopper worked on the first computer, theHarvard Mark 1. And she headed the team that created the first compiler, which led to the creation of COBOL, a programming language that by the year 2000 accounted for 70 percent of all actively used code. Passing away in 1992, she left behind an inimitable legacy as a brilliant programmer and pioneering woman in male-dominated fields

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Coding is the New Literacy - Think Playgrounds, Not Playpens

Coding is the New Literacy - Think Playgrounds, Not Playpens | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it
Professor Marina Bers discusses her research into the design and study of innovative learning technologies and how she believes coding is the new literacy.
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Expressing Yourself Through Code

An unexpected new genre of dance.

 

In this video, Kotb explains how two seemingly irrelevant childhood interests merged to become foundations of her creative performances that fuse dance, music, light, and technology. Furthermore, she shares the lesson of being different and earning respect as she forges a new path in a field dominated by men.

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Computational Creativity and the What-If Machine - Wired

Computational Creativity and the What-If Machine - Wired | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it

In Computational Creativity research, we study how to engineer software which can take on some of the creative responsibility in arts and science projects. There has been much progress towards the creative generation of artefacts of cultural value such as poems, music and paintings. Often, when produced by people, such artefacts embed a fictional idea invented by the creator. For instance, an artist might have the fictional idea: [What if there was a quiz show, where each week someone was shot dead?] and express this through a painting, poem or film. While such ideation is clearly central to creativity, with obvious applications to the creative industries, there have only been a few small, ad-hoc studies of how to automate fictional ideation. The time is therefore ripe to see whether we can derive, implement and test novel formalisms and processes which enable software to not only invent, but assess, explore and present such ideas.

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Kids should code: why 'computational thinking' needs to be taught in schools - The Guardian

Kids should code: why 'computational thinking' needs to be taught in schools - The Guardian | Computational Tinkering | Scoop.it

But it’s more than being able to interact with the remarkable microcomputers in our everyday lives, it’s about having the knowhow and the confidence to look beyond the shiny applications and to the code beneath: about using technology to create from the ground up, not just consume.

More of our schools’ curricula should be devoted to this kind of knowledge. It’s not just student’s technical skills that benefit from this type of learning. The spillover is that students develop better ways to approach and think about problems, which is just as valuable as the technical skills themselves.

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