[FoRK] Computational thinking and energy literacy

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Mon Dec 21 05:49:34 PST 2009

Udell occasionally impresses.  Take this one:


Right on.

Personally, I think Fermi estimation and related techniques need to be  
taught right alongside *counting* --- starting in preschool.  And  
continued aggressively throughout a child's mathematical education.   
Nothing grounds new knowledge like the ability (and encouragement) to  
apply it to everyday life.

Re:  tools:  of course, Mathematica (Alpha or otherwise) isn't the  
only game on the block.  Google will do some of this for you, though  
not enough yet.  (Prediction:  in the '10s Google will either build  
and make available or buy and open-source + host / extend a full  
symbolic computational math product of some sort, along with beefing  
itself up on the "computational knowledge engine" front as Alpha  
matures and demonstrates what's possible.)  But there's a long history  
of such things, and new tools appearing all the time...  Most folks  
have forgotten all about the traditional UNIX "units" tool and  
friends.  Frink has always impressed me, even though it's closed- 
source (open it up, Alan!  It's been years.  It's time.  Get that  
bazaar factor going...)  Fortress gets it.  Etc., etc...

Having dimensioned quantities and dimensional analysis built into a  
language is a powerful idea.  Using a language with dimensional  
analysis built in --- just as a kind of adjunct to reasoning about  
real-world things --- is, as Udell demonstrates, a pretty powerful way  
of thinking.

More like this!



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