[Techtalk] Ideas for tech subjects for teens?

jennyw jennyw at dangerousideas.com
Sat Feb 12 05:09:22 EST 2005

One thing that hasn't been mentioned ... You might want to take a look 
at Squeak. It's a multi-media environment that kids can use to write 
games, simulations, etc. There is material for teachers (there's a book 
called "Powerful Ideas in the Classroom" by B.J. Allen-Conn and Kim 
Rose).  It's been used to teach things besides programming, but of 
course that is available as well. The programming language is Smalltalk, 
which is about as easy to learn as any programming language.

Squeakland (a place for educators):


The Swiki (lots of info):

You can read the mailing lists using a news reader by connecting to 

If you teach programming, I'd suggest looking at pair programming. There 
are some papers by Laurie Williams, et al at http://pairprogramming.com/ 
that talk about its use in educational environments.

Also, you might look at test-first programming -- it builds up good 
habits and gives people a lot of confidence that they're not going to 
break something by changing code (because they can always go back if a 
test fails; the green light is a nice validation, too). There's a bit of 
info here http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?TestDrivenDevelopment and also a book 
by Kent Beck called "Test Driven Development: By Example".

A lot of people mentioned HTML -- if you teach this, it might be good to 
talk about the semantic Web and accessibility issues.  A lot of HTML 
looks okay in a browser, but it'd be really tough on someone who's 
blind. This could segue into Web search engines, since well-formed XHTML 
docs are by nature more optimized for searching.

Akkana Peck wrote:

>With regard to R/C cars: how about working with solar cells to
>make solar-powered cars or robots?  Or simple computer control
I have a friend who teaches science to various kids in various grades 
and she's included alternative energy subjects  -- you can learn a lot 
about science and get something practical, too, by learning how to heat 
water and generate electicity from solar power. Composting with worms 
might be fun, too, although that's getting way off computers ...

Good luck!


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