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Comment Re:Primary school might be too late (Score 2) 138

What if they are interested at an early age? My son is 5, and after seeing me messing about with Logo, wanted to know how to play the 'turtle game'. Within a day he was creating repeated structures and can now draw better with logo than he can with pencil and paper ( not that he is bad at that ).

It helped him develop his maths, reading and rational thinking skills.

Offer them the opportunity at any age - if they show an interest, support it. if they don't, then show them something else new, and see if it interests them.


Comment Re:Cars are everywhere today (Score 1) 138

Quick, lets make sure everyone only has a basic understanding of the world around them! Let's not teach them critical and analytical methods! Lets make sure they only understand things well enough to be happy ignorant consumers!

Simple programming in childhood teaches some very useful general skills with regards to understanding how processes happen. You don't need teachers or parents to have more knowledge, you just need them to impart a way of thinking that doesn't resolve to :

1. I do something...
2. ???
3. Profit!

They need to understand that step 2 may be a lot more interesting than 'someone elses problem'.

You can teach that level of critical and analytical thought without going near a computer - but if the kid is interested, it puts them in a good position for when they do want to do something with computers, and if they aren't interested, it at least puts the concept of analytical thought, and working through a problem systematically as an option in their mind, rather than 'its too hard... why cant you spoon feed me?' .

  If you teach that level of critical thought, the good habits online become easier to teach, because you can present a situation, and the kids can evaluate the consequences.

You don't need to teach kids how to build a house, or engineer a car, but if they can understand a little of the methods needed to work out what is needed to do so, the process of learning any skill in future becomes easier.



Submission + - NASA team pushing towards thermal nuclear propulsion systems (gizmag.com)

cylonlover writes: Nuclear-powered rocket engines are not new. In the 1960s, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union developed and tested thermal nuclear rockets fitted with flight-worthy components. However, Project Rover and NERVA (Nuclear Engine for Nuclear Rocket Application) programs were defunded in the early 1970s just before test flights were to start. Now, as part of the Advanced Exploration Systems program at NASA, the Nuclear Cryogenic Propulsion Stage team is tackling a three-year project to demonstrate the viability of and to evaluate materials for thermal nuclear propulsion systems for use in future deep space missions.

Submission + - Obama takes forceful stand on climate and tech (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: In his second inaugural address, President Barack Obama on Monday argued with certainty and forcefulness about the dangers of climate change and the role of technology in fighting it. It wasn't just a moral point for Obama, but a jobs issue as well. Obama said that the U.S. "cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality." The president led this call with a blunt statement about the moral consequences of inaction. "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations," he said.

Submission + - New/Old Form of Nanomechanical Computing Proposed (bbc.co.uk)

eldavojohn writes: "The BBC is reporting on a newly proposed type of nanomechanical computer that mimics J. H. Müller & Charles Babbage's work on mechanical computational devices — just on a much smaller level. The paper is published today in the New Journal of Physics and cites three reasons to build a nanocomputer with nanomechanical transistors over bipolar junction transistors or field effect transistors: "(i) mechanical elements are more robust to electromagnetic shocks than current dynamic random access memory (DRAM) based purely on complimentary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology, (ii) the power dissipated can be orders of magnitude below CMOS and (iii) the operating temperature of such an NMC can be an order of magnitude above that of conventional CMOS." Perhaps the future of computing (the Difference Engine) has been sitting in a museum right under our noses for well over a hundred years?"
Hardware Hacking

Submission + - Antique engines inspire nano chip

Klaidas writes: "BBC's reporter Jonathan Fildes has posted an interesting article about nano computers:
"The energy-efficient nano computer is inspired by ideas about computing first put forward nearly 200 years ago", he writes. "What we are proposing is a new type of computing architecture that is only based on nano mechanical elements," said Professor Robert Blick of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and one of the authors of the paper."We are not going to compete with high-speed silicon, but where we are competitive is for all of those mundane applications where you need microprocessors which can be slow and cheap as well." In addition to high-temperature automotive applications, Professor Blick envisaged nano mechanical chips being used in everything from toys to domestic appliances.
The team's tiny, hypothetical number-cruncher could be built out of ultra-hard materials such as diamond or piezoelectric materials, which change shape when an electric current is applied. Unlike today's computers, which are based on the movement of electrons around circuits to do useful calculations, the nano mechanical computer would use the push and pull of each tiny part to carry out calculations. The researchers are currently building the first elements needed for the computer, focusing initially on transistors, the basic switches at the heart of all computers. "We have demonstrated that a single element of these transistors work," said Professor Blick."

Submission + - Is Taking a Computer Science Degree Online Viable?

Tourniquett writes: "Growing up I graduated high school using distance courses and prefer that method of learning. I would like to get a Bachelors or Masters Degree in Computer Science but don't want to have to attend a physical classroom. Do you feel that one can learn most of whats necessary for a computer science degree via distance/online learning? Is there anyone who is currently taking a distance course on computer science that has an opinion? Are there any schools with a particularly good/bad reputation for distance learning in computer science? Opinions on related degrees such as programing/database engineering etc.. are good as well."

Submission + - Google Steps Into Microsoft's Office

Russian Art Buyer writes: "Business Week is reporting Google is encroaching on Micorosoft with full force. From the article:
"After months of dancing around with Web versions of e-mail, group calendars, and the like, Google is finally about to take a big leap onto Microsoft's turf. Since last August, the search leader has offered a test version of an online office productivity software suite, called Google Apps for Your Domain, that lets companies offload e-mail systems to Google while keeping their own e-mail addresses. Soon, it's expected to add word-processing and spreadsheet services to the suite, which includes an online calendar, chat service, and Web page builder. In coming weeks, Google Apps will turn into a real business as Google begins charging corporations a subscription fee amounting to a few dollars per person per month.""

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