9 May 00

Rik's slides in Postscript (black&white, 45k!) or PDF (1.2 Meg)

If any other participants want to add things, please contact rik.

UCSD is an internationally recognized center of scientific research, and an institution of graduate and undergradutate education. How are the activities of research and education related?

Lego's Mindstorm robotic kits are designed to be simple enough that kids can use them, but the most successful sales have been to yuppie adults, typically computer professionals. Is Lego missing its marketing demographics, or are these nerds suffering from arrested development?

More and more careers require an understanding of how computers work, what they can do. Yet the number of women in computer science remains tiny, and the "digital divide" makes it seem as if even more may become disenfranchised. How can we make computer science more accessible to more people?

Some of these answers are simple: Adults used to be the same age as the kids they teach. Kids are as curious as we used to be, and have more time to really figure out things they want to know. The same robot can be a cool toy and worthy of experimentation. Teaching and learning are really two sides of the same coin.

TALK will be a day to explore shared interests, among:

The common thread connecting this unusual mix is Lego Mindstorms, a relatively new toy providing sophisticated computational components to more than just kids. Since its introduction last year, the basic platform provided by Lego has become the focus of active investigation by hackers across the globe who have added a number of hardware and software alternatives. Locally, Mindstorms is being used as the basis of a PhD at UCSD, as a lab for the undergraduate class, and as a teaching tool in computer science for the 4th-6th grade students.


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Last updated by rik on 09 Apr 00