Angelo Fernando

Why students love ‘hacking’ – as Introduction to computers

In Uncategorized on August 26, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Whenever I use the word ‘hack’ or ‘hacking’ in class , eyes widen, some smile, a few get super curious. These are often 4th and 5th graders! They’ve heard the word in many contexts, and are not sure if there will be an upcoming class on it. Today, when one asked me if one could hack into Wi-fi, I realized some of them may be ready for more than learning about how to use preloaded software, or understand hardware. After all, to “hack” (apart from the dry dictionary meaning) means “to find a workaround,” a DIY project, or to reverse engineer.

Or to put it in STEM parlance, to problem-solve.

As New Yorker writer Ben Yagoda explained, it used to refer to “a relatively benign sense of “working on” a tech problem in a different, presumably more creative way than what’s outlined in an instruction manual.”

This is the second week of classes, when I introduce Hardware and Software, and how it is part of the eco-system of the Internet we now know. Just like grown-ups, kids have a hard time explaining what the Internet is, or the difference between a web browser and a search engine. But definitions aside, they are in tune with what might be possible, and are open to being in a computer class that lets them peer beyond the hardware in front of them, and into the ‘boxes’ that make cyberspace come together.

Speaking of hacking, I wish I could start a different sort of hackathon here. Maybe not for programming per se, but in the ‘Life-hacking’ sense, for finding alternative, creative ways to use computers and related devices. After all, if governments (examples here and here) run hackathons, shouldn’t schools?

Summer Camp Scholarships for Girls!

In Education, S-T-E-M on May 18, 2015 at 8:15 am

Exciting news! We are about to announce details of a summer camp scholarship for girls.

This has been in the works for the past month. As you may have seen, I moderated a ‘Women in Engineering’ Town Hall meeting, here in the computer lab on April 21st.

Applications will be taken from students at Salt River Elementary. The scholarship will pay for a summer camp at Arizona State University. These ‘camps’ are for those interested in learning skills such as design, app development, robotics, animation, and renewable energy.

This STEM Scholarship program is being underwritten by The Quarter Project, a Colorado-based non-profit promoting engineering for young girls.

Application forms will be out later this week, and posted to our school website.

Lessons From Hubble

In Science, Space on April 30, 2015 at 4:01 pm

It is the 25th birthday day of Hubble Telescope.

In case you missed it, last Friday, April 24th was the day NASA sent up a giant piece of technology that looked like a tin can, but with an amazing lens.

Hubble orbits some 347 miles above the earth, and travels at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour! Think of it as a high-speed camera that could probe the universe, and provide us with images and ‘events’ going on in deep space. Like this one.

This one is called ‘Eagle Nebula’

To teachers, this opens up a vast library. Take the official Hubble website Among other things, teachers could:

And much, much more.



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