Archive | STEM

Microsoft Introduces Imagine Cup Competition for Young Students – The Wired Homeschool

REDMOND, Wash. — March 19, 2013 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the launch of the Imagine Cup Kodu Challenge, a new Microsoft Imagine Cup competition that offers aspiring game developers, ages 9 to 18, the opportunity to learn coding by developing a video game with Kodu, an easy-to-learn, game-creation toolkit and programming language available for free download on Windows-based PCs. Microsoft has drawn on the expertise of Mercy Corps and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop to launch this new challenge as part of Imagine Cup, Microsoft’s student technology skills development program and competition.

“Microsoft developed Kodu to transform programming from a skill perceived as overly difficult to grasp to one that is fun and kid-friendly,” said Scott Fintel, producer for Kodu at Microsoft. “By getting students interested in game design at an early age through Imagine Cup, it’s our hope they will acquire new skills that will translate into a lifelong passion for computer programming and computer science and will encourage them to explore STEM-related careers in the future.”

The Kodu Challenge runs from March 19 through May 17, 2013, and invites students in two age brackets (9–12 and 13–18) to design games on the Kodu platform. For this challenge, participants will explore the relationships between water and people through the medium of Kodu video games. Although the only limits for these kids are their imaginations, the partnership with Mercy Corps offers the chance to learn and explore water-related issues, including disaster relief, clean-water engineering projects and much more, through a video series on the Kodu Challenge website. While acquiring valuable skills such as critical thinking, storytelling and programming, students in both age brackets will compete for first-place prizes of US$3,000, second-place prizes of US$2,000 and third-place prizes of US$1,000.

Read more at microsoft.com

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Teach Your Kids to Code and You’ll Teach Them to Think – The Wired Homeschool

I learned to code when I was about 10 years old. My dad brought home a Commodore VIC-20 with a cassette drive that we hooked up to the TV. My first program was probably similar to every other kid’s from my generation:

10 PRINT "HELLO"
20 GOTO 10

It was simple but I made the computer DO something. In middle school and high school I took computer classes that taught me how to code. I even started learning C when I started college. In the end I determined that a life behind a monitor staring a code wasn’t for me. I never stuck with it but it did teach me to think.

“Everybody…should learn how to program a computer…because it teaches you how to think.” –Steve Jobs

Even today, I occassionally have to break out the old coding skills despite having tons of tools available to solve problems, having a purpose-built program to accomplish a task can be much more efficient.

Learning to code, even simple programs, teaches kids to think logically. They are given a set of rules and must operate within those guidelines in order to accomplish a task. Logically ordering steps and learning to work within the limitations of a set of defined parameters stretches their most important muscle: their brain.

OK, so their brain isn’t really a muscle but I think you get my point. There are a number of free resources available online that you can use to teach your kids to code. I’d encourage you to checkout Code.org for free and inexpensive ways to teach your kids how to code.

Did you learn to code as a kid? Do you think your kids could benefit from learning to code?

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Homeschool Graduate Works on RoboBees Project at Harvard – The Wired Homeschool

My nephew, Michael Bechard, is an electrical engineering major at Eastern Nazarene College. He spent the summer of 2012 at Harvard University working on the “RoboBees” Project, analyzing the affect mobility has on the radio communication signal. Oh yeah, he was homeschooled. If you have a child interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) he or she could do cool stuff like this too!

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Did Felix Baumgartner Really Jump From the Edge of Space? [Infographic] – The Wired Homeschool

Popular Science released this infographic to show that although it looked like Felix Baumgartner was jumping from “the edge of space” he really wasn’t close.

So where does space begin?

There really isn’t a defined point at which the earth’s atmosphere and “outer space” begins. Our atmosphere intermingles with interstellar space over 10,000 km above sea level. In case you’re wondering, that’s roughly height where the International Space Station (ISS) orbits.

Most people refer to the Kármán line when they think about where space begins. Named after Theodore von Kármán (1881–1963), the Kármán line is the height at which an aircraft cannot maintain lift unless it’s travelling at orbital velocity. That distance is roughly 100km above sea level. The International Aeronautic Federation (IAF) selected the 100 km boundary because it’s easy to remember.

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