[Techtalk] Ideas for tech subjects for teens?

April april at farstrider.org
Fri Feb 11 05:07:25 EST 2005

HTML seems like a great place to start, especially for grades 6 - 9 or 
so.  A markup language isn't the best segway into programming, and it's 
easy to discount it because it's so easy and doesn't touch on so much of 
tech, but it has some advantages.  It's easy enough to let kids create 
completed projects after just a lesson or two, and it's a tool that the 
kid is much more likely to ever use outside the class again than the 
standard beginning programming language.  It makes for easier (and 
usually better) presentations than Powerpoint-like software, so a lot of 
my friends have been using it through college the same as they do 
paper-writing skills.  It's an easy way to get acquinted with the 
concept that certain gibberish will make your computer do things, but 
it's much more visual than programming languages.  I remember my biggest 
beef with learning QBasic in tenth grade was how hard it was for me to 
improve upon what I was doing...  Right and wrong are obvious when the 
program does or doesn't work, but better or worse is hard to personally 
experience until you get into programs that are using a lot of 
resources, or need to interface with other programs, or the program 
actually has users.   I gravitated towards the HTML projects because 
after I had everything right, and the teacher was still helping other 
students, I could work on changing backgrounds and fonts and self-grade 
myself based on how it looked.

Other ideas...
Introduction to how search engines really work.  A lot of people use 
google yet don't really understand how the sponsored links are different 
from the other results, or how those sites get there, or why some great 
resources don't even seem to come up in the results.  An introduction to 
the ODP (dmoz.org) is a great way to show how the web is affected by 
normal people who volunteer their time, and how they can also benefit 
their own personal cause by editing a related category and helping to 
get the word out on the web about good resources.

Remote control car kits...
My high school education left a gap somewhere between "How does 
electricity work" and "How to program" that I've always regretted.  I 
would have liked to have seen someone actually working with a circuit 
board in high school, even if it was something the teacher had to do in 
front of class.

Megan Golding wrote:

>I'm a brand new teacher in my first year at a private school
>in the US. My students are between age 12 and 18 in grades
>6 through 12.
>Fortunately I have a very flexible environment to work in.
>I get to create courses and teach them with almost no inter-
>ference from the administration. The school also highly 
>values cross-disciplinary and real world projects.
>I'm encouraged to teach from my experience and avoid trad-
>itional lecturing or worksheets. As I plan the next school
>year, I'd like to get creative.
>What do you wish you had learned in computer classes? What
>did you learn that you think everyone else should?
>Looking forward to your brain storms,
>Megan Golding

More information about the Techtalk mailing list