Friday, May 24, 2013

Feynlabs Has the Right Idea: Start With CS Concepts

I received an email from Lee Omar of UK-based Feynlabs this morning.  It opened with the following:
Feynlabs believes that current IT teaching in schools which is aimed at children is not fit for purpose.  Current courses are unable to teach the skills our digital native generation need or provide the vision and passion for them to develop a career in high level digital technology.
After looking through their website and their Kickstarter campaign, it's clear that Feynlabs, named in honour of Richard Feynman, wants to solve this problem by starting with computer science concepts rather than specific programming skills.

Personally, I think this can be a very good approach to teaching computing.  It's how I try to approach many of my own courses and workshops.  It's even the main inspiration of Gram's House, since there are many games that aim to teach programming and logic, but few that focus on CS principals.

Feynlab's vision describes a three-part approach to their curriculum, which they are beginning to test in schools.  They "start with how the computer views us ... and explore the basic principles of computing,"  including problem solving.  Data structures and algorithms are covered next.  Finally, a product or app is developed.  This is all done with a focus on physical computing "which involves building interactive physical systems which can sense and respond to the Analog world – especially applications that can be created by the Raspberry Pi and Arduino."

I'm unsure of how well all of these things have been or will be accomplished given that little detail is provided (and the website's wording could be better), but this at least seems like a project worth watching.


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