Continue reading: How a team of 2 kids + adult rookies won a Robot Sumo competition

How a team of 2 kids + adult rookies won a Robot Sumo competition

Last night our Lego Mindstorms robot “Robit” somehow managed to win the Robot Sumo competition at the GOTO conference in Copenhagen! (here’s also an article in Mälarö Tidning)


Pretty frickin’ amazing considering that this was a big software development conference with lots of super-experienced developers competing, and our robot was mostly built by two kids – David and Jenny Kniberg (11yrs and 10yrs old) – the only kids at the conference.  Their robot didn’t just win once – it outmaneuvered and outwrestled the competing robots in every match!

Here’s the final, Robit to the left:

So how could a newbie team win the competition so decisively?

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Continue reading: Programming with kids & co-speaking with my son :)

Programming with kids & co-speaking with my son :)

Yesterday me and Dave (11 yrs) spoke together for the first time! We did a public talk at Spotify about how to help kids learn to program. We’ve been experimenting a lot with that in my family (4 kids to experiment with… muahahaha), and wanted to share some learnings. Worked out better than we could have hoped, considering all the risky tech demos and live coding involved 🙂

Shared the stage with teacher Frida Monsén who talked about how to get this kind of stuff into schools. Thanks Helena Hjertén for organizing this, and Spotify for hosting & sponsoring. Here’s an article in Computer Sweden about this event and our little “mod club”.

Here are the slides! They are in Swedish though. Might do an English version of this talk some day 🙂

Dave on Stage

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Continue reading: Programming with kids using LearnToMod and Minecraft

Programming with kids using LearnToMod and Minecraft

I’ve spent years experimenting with how to teach kids programming, mostly using Scratch. But now we’ve found a new favorite: LearnToMod! Kids love Minecraft, and LearnToMod is entirely based on Minecraft, so it’s a perfect match!

We now do a Mod Club every Saturday evening, my older kids (9 & 11 years old) and some of their friends. It’s basically a programming school based on LearnToMod and Minecraft programming. Reeeeaaaally fun, the kids go wild (OK, me too)! AND they learn lots while doing it. To them it’s “magic powers”, not “programming skills”.

I made a 5 minute video showing how it works:

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Continue reading: Logo: Programming with Kids

Logo: Programming with Kids

It’s pretty tough to explain to a 6 and an 8 year old what it is you do all day at work as a programmer. They take the computer programs they use for granted, and just assume that websites work because they’re supposed to work. Explaining that someone had to write “code” to cause a button press on the screen to do something is a bit too abstract. A simpler example though worked wonders! I was working on a little HTML5, Canvas application for a Crisp seminar a couple of years ago called Ball Bounce (a simplified pong-like game), and the girls were mesmerized by how changing a few characters in the editor made huge visual changes in the web browser. Finally a break-through! But JavaScript is not really an entry level language, and teaching kids about events is probably not the best start. So, what is an easy, visual program with instant gratification? Well, why not Logo?
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Continue reading: London – Learning to travel with 4 small kids

London – Learning to travel with 4 small kids

Having fun in London, beta-testing the concept of travelling with 4 small kids. We wanted to make it a challenge – if anything is to go wrong we’d rather it goes wrong on this short trip, than on the big trip after summer (we’re planning to do a 6 month round-the-world trip). So all the kids (except our youngest, 1 yrs old) got to pack & carry all of their own stuff all the way.

And no cabs or cars, which meant walking 1 km to the bus on gravel & dirt roads + a whole bunch of switching between buses, planes, subways, trains, escalators, elevators, stairs, etc, in both Stockholm and London.

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