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posted by LaminatorX on Saturday March 01 2014, @04:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the New-Amateur-Scientist-Awakens dept.

Barrabas writes:

"From Hackaday:

Jeff Highsmith's son just started school and needed a desk to do homework on. They had recently visited the Kennedy Space Center, and his son found a new interest in all things space, so Jeff make the desk into this mind-boggling control panel.

The video demonstrating the project is quite impressive check it out."

 
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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by kebes on Saturday March 01 2014, @10:42PM

    by kebes (1505) on Saturday March 01 2014, @10:42PM (#9269)
    What this guy did was awesome. And his kid seems to be having fun playing with it. I'm sure it acted as a neat way for him to bond with his kid, giving them activities that they can do together. Really great.

    However, his solution almost looks too polished and slick. Again, I don't at all want to diminish how awesome a project this was, but I sometimes worry about unintended consequences of technologically-inclined parents taking charge of the family tech-needs. The natural inclination of the tech-parent will be to buy, configure, and maintain all the tech (and do a good job of it). However, this may have the unintended effect of making the kid incompetent with technology.

    I suspect that most of us can think back to our childhood and remember times when we struggled to get a piece of tech to work. I remember seriously messing up our family computer when I was quite young (and when computers were seriously important/expensive), and then staying up all night fixing my mistake before my parents could find out. Those kinds of experiences both taught me a lot about technology, made me comfortable with technology, and made me enjoy tech/tinkering.

    I'm not normally receptive to curmudgeon arguments of the form "We should make it as painful for this generation as it was for me!" or even "Kids these days have it too easy; they'll never learn the right lessons." But conversely the only way people learn is through the difficult and iterative process of trying and failing.

    So, again, I think this project is cool and is likely to increase this kid's enthusiasm for tech. (Hopefully the dad will encourage his kid to mod the system!) But as a general rule, tech-parents who want their kids to grow up being technologically literate should look for opportunities to have their kids take the lead on projects, should provide opportunities for the kid to modify, hack, break, and fix technology. In some sense, they should resist the temptation to fully apply their skills to projects that involve the rest of the family (including buying computers, fixing the computers, setting up the home network, ...).
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  • (Score: 1) by zaxus on Sunday March 02 2014, @02:44AM

    by zaxus (3455) on Sunday March 02 2014, @02:44AM (#9359)

    I remember seriously messing up our family computer when I was quite young (and when computers were seriously important/expensive), and then staying up all night fixing my mistake before my parents could find out.

    I realize this is OT, but now you have raised my curiosity...what did you break, and how did you fix it? :-)

    --
    "I do have a cause, though. It is obscenity...I'm for it." - Tom Lerher
    • (Score: 2) by kebes on Monday March 03 2014, @05:28PM

      by kebes (1505) on Monday March 03 2014, @05:28PM (#10125)
      Well there were of course multiple incidents...

      The one I was thinking of was when I was trying to get a video game running on the computer. This was in the DOS/Win3.1 days, and I was modifying AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS and IRQ settings all over the place, without really understanding what I was doing. Needless to say, I got the system into a state where it wasn't booting, and was just spewing errors. I believe I figured out how to boot from a floppy, reverted the boot files to some defaults, and eventually got the boot settings back to something more normal (so that the programs others cared about would run). In the end, the fixes were trivial, but at the time I was freaking out (since my dad would use the computer to do all his financial work). It certainly taught me the importance of taking notes while fiddling with a system you care about...

      I remember another time (when I was a bit older but still not old enough, apparently), I had saved up my money to buy an extra stick of RAM. But I bent the contacts when I tried installing it. The store wouldn't take it back, of course... so I spent a long time trying to bend it back into shape and push it into the slot without bending it worse. Amazingly, I got it working.

      So many mistakes. So many learning experiences.
      • (Score: 1) by zaxus on Tuesday March 04 2014, @02:35AM

        by zaxus (3455) on Tuesday March 04 2014, @02:35AM (#10402)

        Nice! I also have many hardware horror stories, bent pins and broken DIMMS (and SIMMS!) and what not. However, the most embarrassing one is my dad (who was an IBMer and worked with PCs all day long) and I were taking apart a working 386, and I think changing the RAM, which due to the case and the installed cards basically meant disassembling it. So we had parts all over the kitchen table, got the RAM swapped out, and dutifully put it all back together, with no parts left over. We hit the power button...and nothing happens (natch). So we open it back up, check all of our connections, close it back up, and hit it again. Nothing. We're both sitting there scratching our heads, and my mom walks by and says, "is it plugged in?" Yep, you guessed it. The two brain surgeons had unplugged it for safety, and then forgotten to plug it in. Doh!

        --
        "I do have a cause, though. It is obscenity...I'm for it." - Tom Lerher
  • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Sunday March 02 2014, @01:53PM

    by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Sunday March 02 2014, @01:53PM (#9595) Homepage Journal

    ENIAC was patented six years before I was born, so I was 12 before I saw a real computer at a tech expo and 30 before I owned a computer, but when I was that kid's age I was taking clocks and transistor radios apart to try to figure out how they worked. I learned from taking clocks apart even though I could never get them back together again, and I learned from taking radios apart that you can't figure out how a radio works by examining it, I had to read books to learn that.

    The most important thing a parent can do for their kid is instill a love of learning and a love of reading to him or her.

    --
    mcgrewbooks.com mcgrew.info nooze.org