Great to see the hacker news crowd has found the show entertaining and useful! We glossed over a lot of the programming aspect because the physical aspect of making something is far more immediately comprehensible for kids (which is why we emphasize getting out and making -something- above all else).
We made sure to get the source code as commented and as easy to handle as possible, but introducing it in the video not only requires a substantial programming background overhead, but may scare a number of newbies off a lot quicker than if they just copied and pasted something into an simple IDE.
Getting something working, that kids can feel some kind of accomplishment with, no matter how simple, can psychologically push them over the initial barrier of fear that an come with new, seemingly difficult things.
The Arduino itself as a dev board platform does a great job of erasing a lot of that fear with a friendly usb connection, holes you can plug things directly into and an open IDE with only a few simple buttons and configurations. The remaining hurdles exist beyond, in attainable projects that lets you poke and prod at the internals and get a good feel for how and why something works, or how to break it. Hopefully our little starter project are simple enough to get kids (or anyone for that matter) out there and -trying something-, no matter how silly or simple. If all you do is do something once and never again, you are still the better for doing it.
Truly an inspiration.
Sounds like you've really helped her learn how to push forward into productivity - and in domains where she gets a thrill from the process and from being able to share it out in the world. Sounds like a great way to let her experience the entrepreneurial as well as engineering worlds!
I'm simply hopeful that as she blossoms into adulthood, some of the adventures her and I share in her youth help her out in the rest of her life.
Its interesting how HN reaches out and pulls people who do cool stuff in. I'm assuming you created your account here in order to respond to all of the traffic sent your way by the story reaching #1 on HN. I've seen this happen a few times in the past. I wonder how many members we've pulled in over the years just noticing the cool stuff they've done and posting it.
I check the oursignal.com aggregator regularly (though the delicious.com content it adds is of seriously dubious quality). The hackernews and reddit posts are almost always interesting, insightful, or relating to what I do (full time+ contract web dev).
Glad to hear there's more hacker dads out there, it's hard to find them sometimes! I'm glad we have such a diverse audience, and if we can get more of the right kind of audience in (those that not only watch, but -actually- get out there and make something with their kids) then the point will be just. We want to hear "Hey look what I did with my kids!".
Some of the projects tend to aim for the lazy or skeptical, trying to make it -so- easy you've got -no- reason not to go spend time making (and possibly failing) with your kids. Adam Savage's "Failure is always an option" motto stands with us everywhere we go. If you're not failing, you're probably not learning.
Maybe one day, we'll have enough YouTube content to create a TV package for children that will actually merit the time spent in front of the TV.
I tried finding a link to something that summarized it better than a YouTube video and decided on using the MAKE link.
I learned to program when I was 6 or 7 years old, using Logo. Unfortunately, Logo is all but dead, but I still think it's the greatest educational programming tool ever. We even had a version of Logo that could interact with Lego motors and sensors called "Lego Logo."
So why can't you program the Arduino in Logo? I posted a quick proposal for such a system at http://github.com/74hc595/Arduino-For-Kids and hopefully I'll get around to implementing it soon. Feedback is welcome.
aside: Yes, there is a version of Scratch for the Arduino, but I personally think the merits of visual programming languages are questionable...
For some reason it seems like a well-kept secret.
Not just in terms of memory, but CPU speed, availability of I/O (e.g. Ethernet), languages, etc..
I'm not saying Arduino is bad, I'm just saying I was disappointed that it had a bunch of great features yet curiously had such a limited memory capacity. Memory is really really cheap.