November 18, 2015

Mid-week Morsel: Hour of Code

What is the Hour of Code?  The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics.  It has been called the largest learning event in history.  It's a week-long event in which you can participate as a group or as an individual, as part of an organized event, or in the privacy of your own home.  It is for children, teens, adults, and everyone in between.  The Hour of Code is an event highlighting Computer Science Education Week, which is December 7-13, 2015.

What do I do?  You level of participation depends on you.  All you really need to do is commit one hour of your time during CSEW to learning about coding. 

How do I participate from home?  You don't have to actually go to an event to participate.  There are several tutorials and websites dedicated to both introducing coding to beginners, and teaching coding to all ages.  Here are a few: is a great website.  It is full of tutorials and lessons aimed at students, but available to anyone.  There are sections for students, educators, and advocates.  They have Minecraft and Star Wars themed Hour of Code lessons! 

 Khan Academy is an excellent site for older children or adults.  You're probably familiar with Khan Academy for math, but they also have a nice computer science section, including one specifically for Hour of Code.  They offer tutorials for drawing with code, creating webpages, creating databases, and more.

 Scratch & Scratch Jr don't offer projects specifically for Hour of Code, but they do offer simple drag-n-drop coding lessons.  Scratch Jr allows children aged 5-7 the opportunity to program their own interactive stories and games.  Children 8-16 can use Scratch to program and share interactive stories, games, and animation.

What if I want to go to an event?  If you'd like to physically go to an organized event, I recommend checking with the Hour of Code website.  There is an interactive map on the homepage pinpointing each of the more than 101,000 registered events worldwide.  I found more than 40 events registered just in my county!  (Note: many schools are hosting in-school events.  Ask you child if he/she is familiar with Hour of Code.)  If you can't find an event in your area, organize an event!  There is information on how to organize an event on the Hour of Code website, too.

Beyond the Hour... If you find that you or your child(ren) want to continue learning to code, or if you are interested in making coding & computer science classes a part of your school or homeschool, there are additional sources available.  Some are free, and some are paid programs.

Online programs include Codecademy, Dash, and CodeHS.  If you or your student would rather physically attend classes led by a teacher or mentor, there are several free and affordable options.  Coder Dojo is a network of free computer programing clubs for young people.  Girl Develop It is a nonprofit organization that exists in 54 cities to provide affordable and judgment-free opportunities for women interested in learning web and software development.  Black Girls Code is a project dedicated to increasing the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology.  They are also working to create a male counterpart, Black Boys Code.

Take some time to explore the world of coding and computer science.  What would you like to learn?


October 22, 2015

Guest Blogger Bitter Princess' Pennant Craft

Today I have a very special guest blogger here to share a fun craft for the kids.  Bitter Princess is a fashion blogger, and happens to be my daughter.  When she was assigned the task of creating an online tutorial for making a decorative pennant banner for her pre-algebra class, she decided Simply The Good Life was the place to share it.

So, without further ado...The Bitter Princess.

As a fashion blogger, I don't usually do posts about crafts. However, fashion doesn't have to only mean your clothes. You can express your style in the way you decorate your home, or even a party. This pennant banner craft is a perfect opportunity to express yourself in your house!

Right Triangle Pennant Banner

Choose a space for your banner to be placed. Next, measure the distance across that space. I chose a window that is five feet across. Now choose your paper. If you want to color or draw on it, now is the time. Your paper should be square. If it is not square, or not the size you want, cut it to the proper size. I used construction paper that was 8 15/16 x 11 15/16. I folded one corner over to make a square, and cut off the extra bit. This also gives you a diagonal line to cut to make two right triangles.

Once you have your first pair of triangles, you can determine how many triangles you will need. The first step to figuring out how many triangles you need is knowing how long the hypotenuse of your triangle is. Remember, the hypotenuse of a right triangle is the longest side. The quick way to figure this out is to simply measure the hypotenuse. If you are using this craft as a way to get your kids to do some math, now is your chance! 

Pythagorean's Theorem states that a² + b² = c². Since you start with a square, instead of a rectangle, you can use special version of Pythagorean's Theorem; 2a² = c². This is because both legs of the triangle are the same length. As you can see in the picture above, my hypotenuse measured approximately 12 5/8 in. I say approximately because it's actually measured 12 10.24/16 in, but that doesn't make a very nice fraction. If the length of the hypotenuse you measured and the length of the hypotenuse you calculated don't quite match, you may not have cut exactly at the diagonal.

Now that you know the length of your hypotenuses, you can figure out how many triangles you need for the length of your space. Remember that my window if five feet, which is sixty inches. Simply divide the length of your space by the length of your hypotenuse to determine how many triangles will fit in your space. As you can see in the picture above, it will take approximately 4.746 triangles. I can round that up to five triangles because I want my banner to hang down, not straight across. You can choose how you want yours to hang.

Once you have all of your triangles cut out, lay them out end to end and put glue along the edge of each hypotenuse. Take a piece of string a little bigger than all of your triangles, and put it in the glue.

After the glue dries, hang up your banner!