Computer Literacy Program – Class 1 – The Bit
For some time now the neighborhood kids have been coming over in the evenings to use some extra laptops to get on the Internet. My fiancé, Ryan, decided to start an official and structured computer literacy program. After roughly a year of planning and research, Ryan developed a curriculum of twelve classes and we have started a pilot run with twelve kids (Ages 9 -18) from our street.
|Ryan will do more thorough posts about the curriculum, the activities, and the effectiveness of the program when all the classes are complete on ideonexus.com. These are just my own personal recaps and memories.|
The first class was last week. Ryan lectured on the bit and binary code. He also discussed the byte, the kilobyte, the megabyte, the gigabyte and so on. As hands on exercises, the kids explored the file system and looked at the sizes of various files and the free space of their brand new hard drives. At this point, I became jealous– their laptops have considerably more space than mine! 🙂
Since this was the first class, I wasn’t sure what to expect about the kids’ engagement level, but Ryan did an excellent job keeping them involved. Ryan routinely asked questions and the kids would shout out their guesses.
After talking about bit and 1 being on and 0 being off, Ryan asked the kids to look over at their new laptops and find the bit on the computer. This activity reminded me of a Dan Brown novel! My whole programming career, I have encountered this button and never noticed the symbol right in front of my face.
The Power Switch – A Bit! 1 and 0! (Photo by Fox Fotography)
Any doubts I had about the kids’ interest was fully squelched when Ryan, aided by a HowToons cartoon (see below), taught them how to count in binary using their hands.
The kids got a kick out of this! The number four seemed to be particularly popular. 🙂 My favorite part involved a quiet kid in the back. Because of his silence, I had been trying to gauge his interest level. Then suddenly I spied him, with his hands very low near the keyboard, configuring his fingers to count to ten.
When I walked the kids back home that night after class, I couldn’t help but feel excited about the eleven more sessions to come!
P.S. Counting in binary has proven to have some staying power. On Saturday, four days after our first class, I took three girls up to Virginia Beach for an outing. And on the grassy hillside of Mount Trashmore, one started practicing her binary counting. The practice continued in the car and I coached the best I could through the rear view mirror. When we returned to Hunter Street, she proudly showed Ryan what she had rehearsed.