THREE PROGRAMMING BOOKS FOR KIDS

– “Lauren Ipsum” by Carlos Bueno is the story of a little girl who must find her way home by thinking like a programmer. It may do for children what Douglas Hofstadter’s “Godel, Escher, Bach” did for Joy back in the 1980s: get them excited about programming ideas. The name “Lauren Ipsum” comes from the dummy text used as filler when printers don’t have the actual text of a page yet or want to show off a font. It’s been around since the 1500s, when an unknown printer used assorted type to make a specimen book. The book’s title character tackles classic problems like “Zeno’s Paradox” and “The Traveling Salesman.” Each chapter connects to a real-life computer science lesson in […]

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AFFORDABLE COLLEGES ONLINE

AffordableCollegesOnline.org offers real degrees from universities such as Oregon State, University of Illinois and Penn State. They offer a series of guidebooks for veterans, the disabled and those for whom English is a second language. There’s also a financial aid section with forms and guides.

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AN INTERACTIVE PERIODIC TABLE

Ptable.com is an interactive periodic table. We clicked on “rhenium” and learned it’s used in jet engines. Who knew?

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FREE SPEED READING TOOL ON THE WEB

Spreeder.com is a free speed reading tool. Paste the text you want to read in the window on the page and the words will flash by at any speed you choose. (This reminds Bob of an old Woody Allen joke: He learned speed reading and went through Tolstoy’s massive “War and Peace” novel in six minutes. He said it seemed to be about Russia.) Because you don’t have to keep a finger on your place, you’ll find your reading speed increasing by 50 percent the first time you try it. We did. The site gives you sample text to practice with, but we went beyond that: We pasted in a bunch of text from “Tarzan of the Apes,” free at […]

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SAY IT IN FARSI

Livemocha.com is a language learning community that covers more tongues that you ever thought you might want to know. Say it in Farsi (Iranian), or Zulu (South African tribal language).

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TINKERBOX: FREE GAME FOR TEACHING ENGINEERING

“Tinkerbox HD” by AutoDesk is a free puzzle game for iPhone/iPad/iPod, for teaching basic engineering concepts. Build outrageous machines or download popular inventions

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WEIRD BUT TRUE!

“Weird but True!” from the National Geographic. It’s a free kids app for iPhone/iPad/iPod that lets you in on some of Nature’s strangest secrets. Like: Cheetahs can change direction in mid air while chasing prey. Or so they say.

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LEARNING ANOTHER LANGUAGE

Memrise.com has foreign language instruction as well as lessons in science and literature. The repetitive nature of its quizzes makes learning easier.

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THE PROGRAMMERS WAY

CourseReport.com programmers headclaims that schools and camps teaching programming, often called “coding,” will bring in $60 million in tuition for the year and graduate 5,987 coders, a 175 percent increase over last year. Tuition can cost up to $20,000, with the average around $10,000 for courses ranging from nine to 12 weeks. All in all, this seems expensive to us.

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STUFF YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT COLLEGES

Back in the dark days before Google, our favorite search engine was Vivisimo. The founder sold it to IBM and now has a new site, OnlyBoth.com

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Kathleen Trabulsi