View Full Version : Programming or AutoCAD-like programs

12-07-2012, 11:23 AM
I'm trying to get a handle on computer usage at my house right now and attempting to turn DS' obsessions into something productive, so I've been looking into computer programming and 3D design programs. Problem is, I'm not particularly literate in either one of those areas and have no idea which programs are good. I've come across both SiMPLE and Scratch for programming and several programs for 3D design (123D, TinkerCAD, and 3DTin). We do have a place locally where we can go to 'print' his best designs. Any thoughts are appreciated! Thanks!

12-07-2012, 12:00 PM
OOH! I'd be interested in this! My son loves his computers also.

ETA: just found this http://marshallbrain.com/kids-programming.htm

12-07-2012, 12:29 PM
we dont do any CAD, although we did get some exposure to a CAD program as part of the FTC (FIRST high school level) - CREO. We have used SCRATCH and liked it - its free. Orion used the Teens Guide to Scratch Programming, which was pretty darn simplified for teens in our opinion. There is also a graphic novel style book (http://www.amazon.com/Super-Scratch-Programming-Adventure-Program/dp/1593274092/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8&colid=1H6QQDR5X00ZC&coliid=I41WI5OBQ8K79) about scratch programming, which Raven really wants. (Strangely, Amazon says someone bought it off my wishlist, but i cant help but wonder if i accidentally linked it from my wish list and someone bought it for themselves from my wishlist? i made sure this link was NOT from my wishlist)

12-07-2012, 02:41 PM
That Scratch book is great, it's on my amazon list for DD!

There are a lot of different ways to go, I would try and figure out where his interests lean -- robotics? designing apps and websites? or 3-D design which could involve CAD?

Advising totally blind, I would make a wild guess that coding apps might be most attractive, in which case you could look at codeacademy -- I like it a lot. The code year track (http://www.codecademy.com/tracks/code-year) offers some structure if that would be good?

12-08-2012, 12:16 PM
That's just it... his interests are all over the map. He loves robotics - he went to a robotics camp last summer and plans to go back again this summer. He also loves the idea of 3D engineering and invents things in his head all the time. He has all sorts of ideas that he can't implement just because he doesn't have the knowledge to design them properly. Web design is not really his gig, but if he wants to learn to program robots, he'll need to learn some sort of programming language. I just don't have enough knowledge of robotics to know what languages might be the most useful down the road. I'll still take a look at codeacademy! Thanks :)

12-08-2012, 12:18 PM
have you looked for a FIRST lego program near you? or considered starting one? sounds like he would love it. teams are small. He would be FLL aged until high school.

12-08-2012, 12:35 PM
There is one. I e-mailed the guy in charge of it yesterday but haven't heard back yet. I'm just not sure it'll work with our current schedule since Michael has swim 3 days a week already. So I need something he can do independently in case that doesn't pan out.

12-08-2012, 12:42 PM
its bad timing for this year, anyways - our affiliated FLL team already did their meet, our FTC team has its meet next week. but consider it for next year

12-08-2012, 12:43 PM
Yeah, ours was apparently back in November. But still.

12-08-2012, 01:20 PM
Ah! Robotics is my DD's obsession, too. We haven't gone too far into it yet and I don't know a lot about it personally. But I've spoken to friends who are much more knowledgeable that I about it and got the following advice -- since I haven't used much of it ymmv:

you can't start too early with hands-on stuff -- wiring, soldering, circuitry. mechanics as well. (we have done some of this, we've got a whole box of stuff. soldering I kept off-limits for a bit, but she'll probably start soon)
definitely agree w/ Cara on the lego teams -- locally they are all school-linked (and very boy-oriented), so I plan to bite the bullet and start a team myself in a couple of years. (Not really looking forward to that responsibility actually, especially since it's not my area of expertise at all.)
almost any programming language will be fine for starters, everyone I know who codes has learned many languages in their time. leaning to program in general is going to be good, so codeacademy would work, I think? We are working with RoboMind, the software is free and there is a lot you can do with it; they are developing courses and have homeschool pricing (we're doing the 1st course now). Programs written in RoboMind will run some Lego robots, so it will definitely come in handy.
People really love this book: Robotics (http://www.amazon.com/Robotics-Discover-Technology-Projects-Yourself/dp/1936749750/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pdT1_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=2D7TV9ACWVMI6&coliid=I38NGGJ7YD60EV), it's on our list with the scratch book. Looks like it has a lot of real projects in it.

12-09-2012, 12:34 AM
Thank you! Yeah, we've just started soldering this year. DH is teaching him how to do that. Circuitry he's been working on with Snap Circuits since he was about 6 and understands the basic mechanics of it, but until he has a practical application use, he won't *really* get it. I'll definitely check out that book and those programs. Much appreciated!

12-12-2012, 05:51 PM
Sarah -

just wanted to let you know -- if your DS signs up for codeacademy; there are discussion groups now and there is a group run by/for homeschooled kids who are coding/learning.

You must check "be a beta tester" in the profile settings to see that groups even exist though -- I went back to finish my long-neglected javascript course because of this thread and couldn't find the groups for days until someone tipped me off about being a beta tester (groups themselves are in beta).

I'm tempted to start a group for homeschooling parents so we can keep a step ahead of the kids.... :p

12-12-2012, 11:27 PM
Nice! Thanks for the heads-up!