Category Archives: Computational Thinking

10 Reasons Kids Should Learn to Code

Thought the following article would be of interest to some…

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Coding Improves Academic Performance

Math: Coding helps kids visualize abstract concepts, lets them apply math to real-world situations, and makes math fun and creative!

Writing: Kids who code understand the value of concision and planning, which results in better writing skills. Many kids even use Tynker as a medium for storytelling!

Creativity: Kids learn through experimentation and strengthen their brains when they code, allowing them to embrace their creativity.

Confidence: Parents enthusiastically report that they’ve noticed their kids’ confidence building as they learn to problem-solve through coding!

Coding Builds Soft Skills

Focus and Organization: As they write more complicated code, kids naturally develop better focus and organization.

Resilience: With coding comes debugging – and there’s no better way to build perseverance and resilience than working through challenges!

Communication: Coding teaches logical communication, strengthening both verbal and written skills. Think about it: learning code means learning a new language!

Coding Paves a Path to the Future

Empowerment: Kids are empowered to make a difference when they code – we’ve seen Tynkerers use the platform to spread messages of tolerance and kindness!

Life Skills: Coding is a basic literacy in the digital age, and it’s important for kids to understand – and be able to innovate with – the technology around them.

Career Preparation: There’s a high demand for workers in the tech industry; mastering coding at a young age allows kids to excel in any field they choose!

 

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17 Useful CSS Cheat Sheets of 2017 | With New CSS3 Tags

[Estimated read time: 4 minutes]

CSS is an inseparable part of front-end designers and developers, probably because it’s the only real option to describe the presentation of a document written in a markup language. It saves a lot of work by controlling the layout of multiple webpages all at once.

Along with HTML and XHTML, the Cascading Stye Sheets can be applied to any XML document such as XUL, SVG, XML, and one can use it to render speech or other media. In most cases, browser support for CSS has never been a concern once you learn CSS. However, it’s is quite difficult for designers to remember all CSS properties and values.

To address this issue and increase productivity, most developers use cheat sheets. They are just a quick reference that helps you double check the snippet of code you’ve doubts about. To make your life easier, we are presenting some of the most useful CSS cheat sheets that will definitely help you get all the necessary elements at a glance. Since they all are freely available, you don’t need to pay anything. 

17. CSS Layout Cheat Sheet

This is a brief cheat sheet divided into 3 sections – layout mechanics, centering elements and common code. It is available on a single webpage in HTML format.

16. WordPress CSS Cheat Sheet For Beginners

The thing that makes WordPress so popular is its customizability. It lets you target very specific aspects of your website with CSS. On this page, you will find WordPress cheat sheet for default body class styles, post, format, menu, widget, common form and WISIWYG editor style.

15. Animations and Effects

This webpage includes transforms, transitions, animations, filters and target. All properties are well-described along with their syntax. If you are interested, you can learn several interactions methods and triggering animations and transitions with those interactions.

14. CSS Properties

If you are looking for descriptions and notes of important CSS properties and values, look no further than simple infographics of CSS_properties provided by genautica.

13. CSS Click Chart

CSS click chart provides dozens on example code to manipulate your elements, for example code for box sizing, adding text shadow, keyframe animations, gradients, transforms and much more. It also gives you live demonstration and browser support information.

12. CSS Grid

As the name suggests, its an ultimate CSS grid cheat sheet that allows you to draw (for testing purpose) any number of grids (both columns and rows) of any size.

11. Media Queries

The CSS3 cheat sheet for media query that contains the code for phone, tablet and desktop, with orientation.

10. Flexbox

The Flexbox Layout (flexible box) module offers a more efficient way to lay out, align and distribute space among items present in a container, even if their size is dynamic or not known. This page gives a detail on how to implement these flexible boxes.

9. CSS Shorthand Cheat Sheet

A very brief cheat sheet that shows the parameters of commonly used properties such as border, font, background, example, color, and more. It is available in JPEF format only.

8. CSS CheatSheet

This cheatsheet is packed with detailed information about different CSS modules, including attributes, pseudoclasses, fonts, colors, composition, filter, effects, transitions, animations, transformations, positioning, alignment, and more. It’s available in PDF format.

7. Practical CSS Cheat Sheet

This is a quick reference guide by Toptal. It includes some of the most important selectors, properties, units, syntax and other useful information in brief.

6. Interactive CSS Cheat Sheet

The interactive CSS cheat sheet consists of common codes that you can easily copy and paste in your project. With interactive widgets, you can generate code for styling gradient, text shadow, box, background, fonts, buttons, transform, border and more.

5. CSS3 Animation Cheat Sheet

The is a collection of preset, plug-and-play animations for your next project. To implement this, you have to add the stylesheet on your webpage and apply the predesigned CSS classes to the element you want to animate. That’s all!

4. Mega CSS3 Infographics

printable CSS3 cheat sheet, containing all the properties, selectors types and values in the current specification of W3C. All properties are provided in a different section, available in high-resolution PDF.

3. CSS Almanac

A quick reference guide to many features of CSS, organized alphabetically. Clicking on each element takes you to the new URL, where will you find a detailed information (along with examples) about the element you’ve clicked.

Read: 35 Impressive Ajax and CSS Loaders / Spinners

2. Comprehensive CSS3 Cheat Sheet

This is an ultimate cheat sheet including all important CSS3 tags. It is designed as an eye-catching infographics that is available in both PNG and PDF format.

1. Mega CSS Cheat Sheet

Read: 22 Creative CSS Hover Effects

This a long, detailed CSS cheat sheet of total 29 pages, available in PDF and PNG format. You can treat it as a small book that comes with a neat table of content. All elements like backgrounds, fonts, texts, grid positioning, etc. are organized into different chapters to provide better readability.

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Run Classic Mac OS on a Mac Plus Emulator in Any Web Browser

The Too Fun Days Of HyperCard Part Two

Mac Plus emulator screen shot

Ever wished you could go back to the good old days of the black & white Mac Plus, running ancient versions of Mac OS like System 7? Your dream can come true with the help of any web browser on just about any platform imaginable, be it OS X, iOS, Android, Windows, or Linux, and you’ll even get a whole bunch of classic Mac apps to play around with too. There are none of the installation complexities of running an unofficial emulator because the entire thing is built to run in a browser with PCE/macplus, just go to the website and let it load.

Depending on which instance you run you’ll get either either a Mac Plus with System 7 and the classic KidPix app, or you’ll get a Mac Plus with a whole variety of old school apps like BBEdit Lite, MacDraw, MacPaint, Microsoft Word, Excel, Works, Orion, PageMaker, ZTerm, Disk Copy, Disinfectant, TeachText, ResEdit (!), StuffIt, Compact Pro, Risk, ShufflePuck Cafe, and Cannon Fodder. Pick your fun:

The classic Mac OS experience is complete, you can open folders, adjust control panels, create and save files, edit things with ResEdit, or play Shufflepuck Cafe:

Shufflepuck Cafe in Mac emulator

KidPix is also entirely usable, stamps and all, so those of a certain age range can get drawing and pretend we’re all in 4th grade again:

KidPix emulator

As mentioned, this does indeed work on just about every platform imaginable. It’s actually pretty fast on any modern Mac or PC in a half-decent web browser, but you can even run the Mac Plus emulator on an iPhone or iPad within Safari or Chrome. Here it is running on an iPhone, complete with a bad Instagram filter to emphasize the retro factor:

Classic Mac OS running on an iPhone

Because it’s all contained within the browser, it does not require the old jailbreak emulator method. Not surprisingly, the Mac Plus emu runs a bit slower in iOS, and you’ll need to be pretty precise with your taps to open folders and apps, which kind of makes it more of a novelty than a usable emulator.

If this sounds similar to the linux in a browser thing we covered a while back, you’d be right, it’s the same basic idea. There’s even a web based Atari ST emulator and IBM PC 5150 with DOS for those who want to really go down the retro route. Is any of this useful? No not really, but it’s fun, and at least it isn’t a toilet paper dispenser.

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Run Hypercard on Modern Mac OS via Web Browser

The Too Fun Days Of HyperCard Part One
Hypercard on Mac in a web browser

Do you remember Hypercard? If you’re a (very) longtime Mac user, you might recall tinkering with the amazing Hypercard application, described by the creator as “a software erector set, which lets non-programmers put together interactive information” using the HyperTalk scripting language along with an easy to use interactive interface builder.

Though Hypercard was never brought along to the modern era in Mac OS X or iOS (sigh, maybe some day), if you’re feeling nostalgic for geeking out in HyperTalk one more time, you can easily run the entire Hypercard application and enjoy a bunch of retro HyperCard stacks on your modern Mac right now thanks to the great in-browser emulator on archive.org.

To run Hypercard today, all you need is a modern web browser running in Mac OS, Mac OS X, Windows, or Linux. Yes really.

We’ll link to four different ways to run HyperCard in a web browser, the first is simply Hypercard on it’s own in System 7.5.3, whereas the other three links are Hypercard with large collections of pre-made Hypercard stacks – some of which you will undoubtedly recognize if you geeked out any of this stuff decades ago. Each link below runs Hypercard atop an old Macintosh OS release in the web browser, all using emulation, you do not need to download or install anything, simply click the link to launch a new window and then click to boot up the browser based virtual machine.

Is this cool or what?

For many old Macintosh uses, Hypercard was their first foray into the mere concept of creating software, whether it was just a goofy soundboard, a simple application, or a game. Dedicated developers even built entire elaborate programs and games on the Hypercard platform, including the wildly popular 1993 game Myst.

Hypercard on Mac OS X

* The video below from 1987 discusses Hypercard with the famous Apple engineer Bill Atkinson:

If you’re enjoying this retro blast from the past, you’ll likely enjoy our other emulator topics as well as running classic Mac OS in a browser based Mac Plus emulator too. Have some retro fun!

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10 Reasons Kids Should Learn to Code

Learning about Computational Thinking, often referred to as coding (which is really the “written” part of process), is a new literacy that is overlooked for myriad reasons: “It’s too hard”, “I don’t understand it so, it will be impossible to teach”, “It doesn’t fit into any curricular area”, “There is no math in it at all”, “It’s just not appropriate for little ones”. I’ve pretty much heard the gamut of reasons why this process, not dissimilar to Design Thinking or Inquiry processes taking placing in Making/Tinkering and STEAM environments, is not viable in classrooms today. The reality is that computation thinking is a YAIEP or Yet Another Inquiry Entry Point. This should be a comforting thing for most. Inquiry and more recently Design Thinking are processes have been used extensively in the STEAM and Maker Movements that has swept educational institutions. These programs feature pedagogy that empower students to take more responsibility for their learning pathway; directing their learning through questions and personal perspectives; try to find and solve unique problems that have meaning and importance them; collaborating together to makes sense of data collected; communicating with authentic audiences and experts to share and obtain information; demonstrate their understandings in unique ways. This is Computational Thinking at it’s best as well. But there are added benefits as well and the article highlights these beautifully….  (Keith Strachan)


Word Splash of Coding Words

10 Reasons Kids Should Learn to Code

When it comes to preparing your children for the future, there are few better ways to do so than to help them learn to code! Coding helps kids develop academic skills, build qualities like perseverance and organization, and gain valuable 21st century skills that can even translate into a career. From the Tynker blog, here are the top 10 reasons kids should learn to code:

Coding Improves Academic Performance

  1. Math: Coding helps kids visualize abstract concepts, lets them apply math to real-world situations, and makes math fun and creative!
  2. Writing: Kids who code understand the value of concision and planning, which results in better writing skills. Many kids even use Tynker as a medium for storytelling!
  3. Creativity: Kids learn through experimentation and strengthen their brains when they code, allowing them to embrace their creativity.
  4. Confidence: Parents enthusiastically report that they’ve noticed their kids’ confidence building as they learn to problem-solve through coding!

Coding Builds Soft Skills

  1. Focus and Organization: As they write more complicated code, kids naturally develop better focus and organization.
  2. Resilience: With coding comes debugging – and there’s no better way to build perseverance and resilience than working through challenges!
  3. Communication: Coding teaches logical communication, strengthening both verbal and written skills. Think about it: learning code means learning a new language!

Coding Paves a Path to the Future

  1. Empowerment: Kids are empowered to make a difference when they code – we’ve seen Tynkerers use the platform to spread messages of tolerance and kindness!
  2. Life Skills: Coding is a basic literacy in the digital age, and it’s important for kids to understand – and be able to innovate with – the technology around them.
  3. Career Preparation: There’s a high demand for workers in the tech industry; mastering coding at a young age allows kids to excel in any field they choose!

Tynker makes it fun and easy for kids to learn how to code! Kids use Tynker’s visual blocks to begin learning programming basics, then graduate to written programming languages like Python, Javascript, and Swift. Our guided courses, puzzles, and more ensure that every child will find something that ignites their passion for learning. Explore our plans and get your child started coding today!

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Jigsaw variant – Pulsing

Pulsing is a jigsaw variant that allows students to benefits from the “hive” mind, but also insists on individual accountability in terms of project and task completion.

I use pulsing a lot for research…. I have attached an example I used with a grade 7 class doing an inquiry on creating a fully functional island with government, a people, culture, population  centre, etc… .

My belief is that structures such as this address the following learning structure considerations…

  1. Student Voice
  2. Accountability
  3. Broadening Perspectives
…and are vitally important in an educational landscape. See below.

Computational Thinking Revisited

Computational Thinking
Computational Thinking

I have been thinking more about what the important steps embedded in the process of programming… There are really two cycles within the process: one that follows a design or inquiry-like sequence & one that addresses computational thinking. I have tweaked this model over and over and have done so again below to show where I think the computational thinking fits in.

Blended Processes: Computational & Design Thinking
Blended Processes: Computational & Design Thinking

It’s fascinating to watch students tackle this head on. I was at Wellington School the other day working on a coding and I was amazed on a number of fronts:

Wellington Students
Wellington Students Coding; Posted with permission
  • Students were unfazed by the coding challenges put in front of them: the challenges were hard but the students were highly motivated to solve them
  • Students struggled initially with establishing social sharing of the tools: needed to provide some strategies here
  • They successfully collaborated in their teams
  • They creatively collaborated across teams
  • The focussed completely on the coding problem & trying to solve it
  • It didn’t matter that Math, Science & ELA outcomes, strategies & content were being dealt with in order to solve the coding problem at hand: students shifted between these areas with ease. The blended nature of the content was authentic and natural to the students
  • Students were creative in their solutions to the coding problems that were being solved
4 Cs: Above & Beyond
Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking , Creativity

What stands out is that with little help the students were practicing the 4Cs meaningfully across content areas. This reaffirms that coding can be curricular glue, but more than that, it allows for students to engage in two authentic and worthy processes: inquiry/design & computational thinking.

Heat VS Temperature

I have been working on a HEAT VS TEMPERATURE simulation for a Grant Park coding challenge. The prototype appears below. I have limited the speed to 50 and the number of cloned objects to 50 as well. My temperature measurements at the moment are pure fiction and I would love some advice on formulas to make those more accurate.

At any rate, the idea would be to have students generate the code to create the simulation in order to explore what happens to heat and temperature when you increase or decrease the speed and/or number of particles in a substance.

Please feel free to email any feedback:  Contact Me

PICOs, Pis, Beans, Bits & Bugs – Coding Reaches out into the Real World

Coding for the most part exists in a virtual space. But there are some fascinating tools that allow learners to experiment with coding and real world objects. Here are a short list of some of those items. I will have tutorials on how some of these work as the year progresses…


PICO board

PICO board
PICO board

The PicoBoard allows you to create interactions with various sensors. Using the Scratch programming language, you can easily create simple interactive programs based on the input from sensors. The PicoBoard incorporates a light sensor, sound sensor, a button and a slider, as well as 4 additional inputs that can sense electrical resistance via included cables.

Here’s an example of PICO boards in play in a Drawing Program:

WSDCodeCHWK2PrepScratch from Keith Strachan on Vimeo.


Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi
Raspberry Pi 3

In another excellent article provided to me by my Director, called “Life with Raspberry Pi: Sparking a School Coding Revolution” By Chad Sansing, I discovered that…

The Raspberry Pi is a “$25 computer that fits in the palm of your hand. While you supply the mouse, monitor, and keyboard connection, your “RPi” supplies the rest. It comes with a Linux-based operating system (an open-source alternative to Windows and Mac OSX) called Raspbian. The operating system is on a Micro SD card.”

“Using the RPi, kids can connect Scratch with Microsoft Kinect to write programs controlled by a player’s body. Or they can plug an Arduino circuit board into a laptop to light up or move attached objects by writing small “sketches”—short programs—of code.”

“Working with Python and IDLE to run a circuit or to modify a game like Minecraft makes it clear to kids how computers control the devices around us. Programming a blinking LED light or a Minecraft building helps them see how what we do with code translates into what happens virtually, on screen, as well as in the physical world of electricity.”

And that’s really just a starting place.


Arduino Beans

Arduino Beans
Arduino Beans

The LightBlue Bean is a low energy Bluetooth Arduino microcontroller that is programmed wirelessly and is perfect for your smartphone controlled projects!

“Using Bluetooth 4.0, this Arduino-compatible board is a serial protocol that allows the LBM313 Bluetooth Low Energy module and Atmega328p to communicate both messages from the client (OS X, iOS, etc.) to the Arduino. As well as send special commands to the LBM313 to do things like read the temperature sensor and set the LED.”

In other words, this tiny little bean can handle anything from opening your combination lock with your phone to reminding you to pick up milk from the grocery store, to turning your fan on automatically when you get too hot. All while running on a single coin cell battery! It’s designed for easy wirelessly programming from your iPhone, iPad, Android phone, Mac or PC!


Micro Bits

Micro Bits
Micro Bits

The Micro Bit is all about having “young people learning to express themselves digitally” through coding. Suggested projects for the Micro Bit include using its magnetometer to turn it into a metal detector, using it to control a DVD player, or programming its buttons to work as a video game controller.

In another great article provided by my Director entitled “This Is The Tiny Computer The BBC Is Giving To A Million Kids”, by Rich McCormick the situation concerning “comparatively cheap computers that have helped thousands learn programming skills, and played a part in kickstarting the British video games industry, as coders designed increasingly elaborate console games in their bedrooms. Rocks references the original BBC Micro in describing the scope of the new project. ”As the Micro Bit is able to connect to everything from mobile phones to plant pots and Raspberry Pis,“ she says, ”this could be for the internet-of-things what the BBC Micro was to the British gaming industry.”


Code Bugs

Code Bugs
Code Bugs

CodeBug is a cute, programmable and wearable device designed to introduce simple programming and electronic concepts to anyone, at any age. CodeBug can display graphics and text, has touch sensitive inputs and you can power it with a watch battery. It is easy to program CodeBug using the online interface, which features colourful drag and drop blocks, an in-browser emulator and engaging community features. Create your own games, clothes, robots or any other wacky inventions you have in mind!