Closeups of the LEGO sponsored PicoCricket Kit
BusinessWeek has a slideshow (with commentary) of the new PicoCricket Kit. Apparently, LEGO has partially funded a startup that is selling the kit (8 projects come with it). View the article and slideshow here.
Her first project was a lamp. That was on one of the project cards that came with the kit, but she embellished the idea by wanting to make it so the light came on when the room got dark. It was exciting for her to see how quickly she could make an idea like that become a reality!
I have a 5 year old nephew and a 4 year old niece... maybe I'll wait a year, but you've got me interested in checking it out a little more to see if they might like it... thanks.
While you are waiting for your niece and nephew to get old enough to invest the $250 for a PicoCricket kit, you might want to check out the following THAT ARE FREE:
Scratch - a drag-and-drop programming toolkit that allows children to create their own games, animated stories, and interactive art. I played with a beta this summer and it is VERY cool, especially for younger kids. You can check out the site at http://scratch.mit.edu/. Won't be available until later this year, but there is a cool 10 minute video that demonstrates the capabilities. Developed at MIT.
Squeak/Etoys - Squeak is a "media authoring tool" -- software that you can download to your computer and then use to create your own media or share and play with others. You can learn more at http://www.squeakland.org and http://www.squeak.org. Scratch is built on top of Squeak. Developed by Alan Kay, the father of object-oriented programming, the mouse, and Graphical User Interfaces (while at Xerox PARC). He was inspired by the work of Jerome Bruner (constructivist learning theories) and Seymour Papert (anyone recognize the father of the Mindstorms...)
Alice - The focus of the Alice project is to provide the best possible first exposure to programming for students ranging from middle schoolers to college students. It removes barriers that currently prevent many students from successfully learning to program a computer. Alice makes it much easier for students to create programs. Students drag-and-drop words in a direct manipulation interface. In addition, Alice reifies object-based programming by providing animated, on-screen 3D virtual objects. Alice was developed at Carnegie Mellon.
If you are wondering where I came across much of this, you might want to check out the Lifelong Kindergarten website - the group at MIT responsible for Crickets, Scratch, and of course related the Media Group that produced our beloved Mindstorms Robots! Their site is http://llk.media.mit.edu/.
My apologies to everyone for so much non-Lego information, but our host did start with the post about PicoCrickets... :-)