• Moriwaki, K., Brucker-Cohen, J. (2006). “Lessons from the scrapyard: creative uses of found materials within a workshop setting”. In AI & Society. 20:4. 506-525.

  • Ackermann, E.K. (2016). “Learning to Code: What is it? What’s In It For The Kids?— A Tribute to Seymour Papert". Trans. version from publication in Tecnologie didattiche (TD 27-2002).

Learning to code: what is it? What are the benefits for children?

Children's minds are so interesting. It is fascinating how a child can adapt to their environment and can even change their personality according to the situation. for example, a child can be a very tough and demanding child at home but behave very nicely at nursery school.

"The shift from speech to writing brings invaluable gains, but also losses that are often overlooked by educators, researchers or parents."- Ackermann, E.K. (2016).

Because much of social interaction takes place online, through social media, many lose the ability/never learn to socialize face-to-face physically. The Metaverse is so much hyped at the moment, but what is lost if people don't interact in/with their bodies? For example, body language, non-verbal rules of behavior, politeness etc.

"spr[w]riting" - mixing letters and numbers, emojis, emoticons, and abbreviations:

Even babies learn to use touchscreens because they are very intuitive to humans. Humans naturally use tools provided by the body, such as hands, to perform tasks. The fingers are used for more sensitive tasks than the whole hand. This is why children often understand touchscreens very easily.

But nowadays, when everything is moving towards touchscreens and you simply can't do everything on a touchscreen... THIS makes computers smarter than their users.

Today's tools and materials allow programming in a weak sense: either by borrowing code or by bringing the code directly into the context of use.

By giving commands to someone who can carry them out, the child learns, incidentally, to delegate, and delegation implies a partial sharing of control.

Playfully, the child gets to explore the issues between control and delegation, and at the same time learns to take control and let go, both of which play a central role in all relational events, be they human or things.

New terms I have learned:

  • Pygmalion

  • Ambient programming

  • Ambient computing = bringing part of the programming activity directly into the environment where the activity takes place.

  • "spr[w]riting"

What I missed in Ackermanns' text was the alarming part of the really simplified user friendly user interfaces, tat are getting more and more common nowadays. I think that it is a little alarming that Kids who don't grow up in an environment that practices coding or use more complicated user flows are at risk of not even learning how to use a keyboard. Children are becoming more and more helpless, and this means that the computer is taking over the control. People are doing a lot of things online and on smart devices without knowing what they are actually doing and what they are giving permission to. Ackermann does write about machine learning and how we are moving from programming to teaching computers. Also how the computers are getting so complicated and wise that even the smartest coders sometimes can not beat them.


Ackermann claims "This is why, given the chance, today's kids don't just consume and lose. Instead, they create and recycle."

I think all this may be true in small parts of the world where people are highly educated, but in most parts (and where most children are born) this is not true because recycling is a privilege.

Lessons from the scrapyard: creative uses of found materials within a workshop setting:

The second article is not about teaching children, but about teaching adults in an accessible way in workshops. The authors call the project Scrapyard Challenge. The setting of such workshops engaged a wide range of people in a design process that would normally exclude non-designers.

"Many of the projects implemented in these workshops remained unfinished or in the early prototype stage. However, the intention was not to create finished pieces but to allow a moment of spontaneity and the materials at hand to provide the constraints of creative work. Although each workshop generated innovative ideas in its field of activity, the skills activated by the workshop experience were similar."

"The possibilities and material properties of the objects found in the Scrapyard Challenge environment served as a basic constraint that grounded the participants' ambition, yet was open to design goals."-Moriwaki, K., Brucker-Cohen, J. (2006).

New terms:

  • ‘‘low art’’

  • ‘‘hackability’’

The main idea of the scrapyard Challenge was to familiarizes the experience of physical computing and interaction design into a cultural context that many can easily relate to and understand. ‘‘Breaking the rules’’ in order to encourage mental and creative flexibility.

This is an interesting topic, since I think that interaction design and physical computing are amongst many people that I have talked with thought to be something out of this world, something not graspable.

Notes form Class:

  • students teach each other

  • empathy is an important feature of a student and the teacher

  • engagement

  • interest

  • sharing knowledge

  • A teachers job is to bring an environment where the teacher and the students can teach each other


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