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Super Awesome Sylvia shows super simple Arduino (makezine.com)
221 points by kmfrk on Feb 5, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 25 comments



Sylvia's dad here,

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.


Putting aside the obvious geekiness (which, of course, we all love) I think this is a stunning example of how the whole family can get involved in creating something absolutely wonderful.

Truly an inspiration.


Great stuff, Sylvia's Dad.

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!


Yep. Making a show is in itself an amazing discovery of what you could do. We keep everything simple, the script is only a basic guideline and she takes an active role in every part of the production.

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.


Greetings techninja42. Welcome to HN. I hope that you'll stick around HN and share this kind of insight as there are quite a few "hacker dads" like myself around here who find this kind of thing gold.

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.


Yep, made an account just for this!

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.


I wanted to share this (from reddit), because it inspires and encourages me the same way Khan Academy does. If I had kids, I'd definitely show them the channel. It feels like a mix of Mythbusters and Jørgen Clevin[1].

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.

[1]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnlVPv5TwGQ


I work at a community centre in a Canadian metropolis (I'm their computer-grant and education coordinator). I'm definitely going to bookmark this for them.


Can you link to the Reddit discussion as well please? I can't seem to be able to find it


Here it is, relegated to a niche subreddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/electronics/comments/fc4dw/quite_pos....

I tried finding a link to something that summarized it better than a YouTube video and decided on using the MAKE link.


What's interesting is she just glosses over the programming aspect. This got me thinking. The C language presents a pretty big barrier to entry for young tinkerers, who have never heard the word "integer" before.

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...


It's nothing to do with hardware hacking, but Python ships with a kickass turtle module: http://docs.python.org/library/turtle.html

For some reason it seems like a well-kept secret.


Best. Parents. Ever.


My kids love this show and has gotten them sincerely interested in electronics (and putting cut-outs on sticks for puppet play) - keep up the good work!


This is absolutely superb. Hopefully videos like this will inspire the younger generation to actually look into how things work and not just how to use them. Projects like Arduino really lower the barrier to entry to allow adults and children alike to explore these areas. Great work!


I wanted to use Arduino for a project, but gave up on it because it has such a tiny amount of memory. http://www.arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/Memory


16K FLASH/1K SRAM/512 bytes EEPROM is pretty reasonable for a traditional embedded microcontroller. Think small (ie efficient), if you want to get into the spirit of such devices.


My first embedded chip had 256bytes of memory and 16 instructions


It's definitely plenty to get started, one of our uni subjects on a microcontroller we barely got past using registers.


What was the project? I find that one one problem with beginners to embedded systems is that programmers are now so used to desktop computers with huge amounts of resources that they think too big for a first project.

Not just in terms of memory, but CPU speed, availability of I/O (e.g. Ethernet), languages, etc..


It was a project that needed more than 16K of memory. I read that there are tricks to stream memory in as-needed from outside sources, but that just reminds me of programming in the 80s, which I'd rather not go back to.

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.


BTW, for those of who don't know, that natetrue guy she mentions is the same dude from cre.ations.net who built tap tap revolution for the iphone first unofficially and then officially.


This is amazing. The line in the article, "gives me hope for humanity," is spot on.


The line should be more "most people don't understand what kids can do".


very cool. in the age of the web and YouTube, this girl can serve as a role model for millions of others throughout the world. keep it up.




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