My wife and I belong to a home schooling group. Last year there was a push to do the legos mindstrom robotics challenge. I bought the very expensive kit only to find that I had to teach my son to use that crappy picture programming environment that legos provided. I used to have my own business writing IVR systems before the web hit. My experience is mostly in C and assembler along with some VB to build user interfaces with. When I saw the picture programing crap legos makes one use I didn’t want to pollute my sons mind with it. So we didn’t do much. I did try to teach him and some of his friends pseudo code. To help in designing programs. I have a degree in Comp Sci that I got in my forties after I stopped doing IVR systems but I have no EE.
A lot of people in the homeschooling group pushed me to teach a class on “computers.” They have no idea what that means but they know their children will need it. The kids are mostly around 12 years old. I want to give them a good foundation is what are logic circuits, what are analog circuits, how to do procedural as well as event driven code. Plus I want to make some cool stuff with arduino. I am somewhat disabled from cancer but I can do a lot of things I just have pain a lot and it’s hard to stand for long periods and hard to walk. This puts a damper on a lot of things. I live in Montana and one of the reasons I moved here was for the skiing but now I can’t ski ( I can’t tell you how POd I am about that.) So now what do I do with the Kids.
The first book I bought is “Getting Started with Arduino” by Massimo Manzi. I also found a lot of stuff online, especially on youtube, that give good examples. One of my goals in the class is to get the kids to learn the math involved. That is a major aspect of my goals. When a person is young they do mostly very boring work sheets in math class. I want to show them that it actually has uses in the real world. I thought doing arduino would be a good place to do that.
So now what do you all think on how I should structure the class?
A lot of homeschooling groups homeschool be cause they want to protect their kids from un ideas. We aren’t like that. we homeschool because we want the best education our kids can get. My daughter took the PSAT when she was almost 15. She was three points below a perfect score. Most kids don’t take that test until they are 18. She now goes to the local university because she was allowed to skip high school. She wants to be an engineer and she is getting straight As. Please don’t think we crack the whip over her. She did most of her work in the car as we drove her to her horseback riding lessons. Or her Gymnastic lessons or the dozen other lessons she takes. She plays the piano and did a state wide piano competition. She really wanted to win. When she came in the door after the competition I could see in her face she was pissed. I asked her how she did. She spat out “I got second.” I asked her “do you know the difference between first and second?” She said “WHAT!” I said “Practice.” She then started to increase her practice time by fifteen minutes every week until she had doubled her practice time. She did that on her own. But later she got more interested in gymnastics and didn’t do piano comps any more ( but our neighbors stand in their driveway to listen to her practice.) But now she is always medaling when she competes. That’s what home schooling does for your kids. But believe me we, her patents, put a ton of effort and money to support her. Kids always need to know that their parents love and support them.
So enough of a side track. What do you all suggest in books to help, web sites to help and any other ideas you might have to help a bunch of 12 year old boys become eecs majors. I think I should add that I use the MIT open course work program a lot. MIT decided they weren’t in the education business they are in the degree granting business. So they give the education away free. If you like to learn, as I do, it’s a very great resource.