On Social Development

Last night Simon had this social experience like never before: for the first time in his life, he followed a long (nearly 3 hrs) live programming session and actively participated in the live chat, alongside hundreds of other programmers (most of them university students or professionals). Maybe I should add that the tutorial was about algorithms for neural networks and a lot of it was calculus-related. As the session progressed I watched Simon dance in excitement. Although it was pretty late and he hadn’t completed all the bedtime rituals (like daily piano practice and bath) I let him stay online while I went to the children’s bedroom to read to his little sister and we continuously heard his euphoric yells from the living room. Then, after the session ended, he rushed to me, his whole face glowing with happiness. He suggested something in the chat and Daniel Shiffman (the brilliant assistant professor from NYU whose courses Simon follows on a daily basis and who also gave that live session) mentioned his name and said it was a great suggestion! I started a warm shower for Simon and heard him enthusiastically reflect upon everything that had just happened while he was showering. He was talking to himself out loud in English.

I think Simon is going to follow all the weekly live sessions from now on.

This has made me think that it’s probably time to realize that to Simon, the social opportunities that the technological age offers are much more real than they may seem to an outside observer. And maybe we, his parents, should stop worrying about not being able to find mentors and peers who can match his interest and depth in our geographical area. Being Simon’s mom I begin to realize like never before that there’s a whole world out there.

Slack Chat Neural Networks 2 Jun 2017 2

Slack Chat Neural Networks 2 Jun 2017

Lego Mindstorms

Digisnacks, an electronica course at Artesis Plantijn Hogeschool Antwerpen, has started again. This time it’s Lego Mindstorms 2. Simon didn’t follow the Lego Mindstorms 1 course but studied how the set works via a couple of YouTube tutorials. It’s a course for 10-14 olds 😉 

CodeFever Diploma

Simon received his diploma today for having completed the CodeFever course “Codekraks, Level 1” (normally offered to children in their 5th or 6th school year, that is 10 to 12 year olds). He didn’t know what a diploma is and wanted to give it back at the end of the lesson.

 

 

The course was fully based on Scratch, a drag-and-drop programming platform. Simon prefers the “real” programming languages these days, spending hours per day practicing mainly JavaScript and HTML (in combination with CSS) and I can’t exactly measure his attitude towards the CodeFever course. He has done pretty well during the course, although he was slow in finishing the tasks. Knowing him I can assume he thought the tasks/ topics covered were not exactly corresponding to the challenges he wants to be challenged with. The teacher was nice to him but I wonder if he sees Simon’s level of abstract thinking, his passion for coding and preserverance in problem solving.

Astronomy Classes

On Saturday Simon had his second astronomy workshop at the local observatory. The pages below is “homework”. He wasn’t particularly enthusiastic doing it but found tasks 4, 5 and 8 intriguing and was proud of himself when everything was completed. I always struggle with myself when giving him such “compulsory” tasks as he works better autonomously or at least when being able to chose the problems (which is often possible when using an online math platform, for example).

He also doesn’t like writing things down for someone else, in other words when he doesn’t see any practical value in it for the future. I’ve noticed that he prefers writing things down for himself to remember. Sometimes he even gets up at night to write something down, it’s quite funny to watch.

He said he liked his second workshop but couldn’t answer the question whether he learned anything new. He literally said “I can’t say yes or no to this question”. The workshop was about stars and galaxies. The first workshop was about constellations. Simon also confided to me that he is a little bit afraid of the third workshop next month: it’s called “3, 2, 1 Go!”. He is old enough to understand they would definitely not be taking an actual space flight during the workshop, still it seems to be triggering the old fears he’s always had of (accidentally) stepping in an aircraft and taking off.

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Lego WeDo

During his latest Digisnacks class at the Artesis Plantijn Hogeschool in Antwerp Simon fell in love. He told me this in English (don’t mind the wrong grammar): “Mom, I fell in love so deep!” With what? – I asked (knowing it’s not “with whom” yet in Simon’s case). – Lego WeDo!

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He has since then downloaded pdf’s and the Lego WeDo 2.0 software and has been studying them thoroughly, hoping that Sinterklaas will give him the 2.0 set shortly.

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Examples of projects from Simon’s Code Fever class

Here are some examples of the tasks and projects Simon makes at his weekly Code Fever classes where they’re currently learning about conditional logic.

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This one he quickly made tonight at home to explain the theme “signals” to Dad:

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Earlier projects from during the class (he didn’t remix/ save the one from today in class). The first one is about controlling the characters by pressing letters and arrows on the keyboard:

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In this one two dino’s play ball:

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