Knowing that you could look under hood was a big part of what drove the generation that created today’s digital culture. But today’s kids are growing up with black boxes—compiled smartphones apps and a web that is largely made up of cloud based applications (versus simple pages). Looking under the hood at how a page is built or a program works is not easy any more. So it’s important to ask how...
Since our launch we’ve gotten tons of great feedback from users. This video just came in yesterday from France - so cute!
Our first week in the wild
So, we launched Hopscotch last week, and it’s been quite a ride since. It’s been downloaded more than 20,000 times, we cracked the Top 10 iPad Education apps, and were featured in New and Noteworthy on the App Store. After the initial press we got all sorts of other great coverage on various ed tech blogs. We’ve had folks volunteering to translate it into nine different...
Whew! Our baby got off the ground! We’re still reeling a bit from our launch on Tuesday evening. We got some great media coverage. We also got this amazing chocolate cake with a Hopscotch interface frosting from Andy and Zach. And by Wednesday, Hopscotch had cracked the Top 10 education apps in the App Store. !!!! Email and tweets continue to flow in, and we can barely keep up....
Final Countdown to Beta Release
We’re so excited to announce that the beta release of Hopscotch has been approved for the App Store! We’re going to demo at the All Things D conference on Tuesday (tomorrow) and release to the App Store after that. To catch everyone up: for nearly the past year, we’ve been building an iPad programming language called Hopscotch. We’re super proud of all the work...
Teacher (and Beta Tester) Love! →
I have shown this app before and it keeps getting better as more updates are made. Today the beta version, which will soon see approval on the app store allows: A range of commands and controls that remind one of Scratch and/or Logo but more immediate and accessible The ability to run over 5 different programs simultaneously Saving and opening of sequences by name on the devices thus...
Video game teaching Java programming →
Codespells looks cool, and even better: “The researchers tested the game on a group of 40 girls, ages 10 to 12, who had never been exposed to programming before. In just one hour of play, the girls had mastered some of Java’s basic components and were able to use the language to create new ways of playing with the game.” Nice! We are pro anything that helps kids (especially girls!!)...
Girls Who Code is blowing up this summer →
Just had lunch with the most excellent Ashley Gavin (Dalton alum!) — who is helping put together this summer’s Girls Who Code curriculum upstairs at App Nexus, and then came back to find a couple of people who sent over this article about GWC! What a terrific program.
Just had a nice long chat with John Maloney (lead developer of Scratch at MIT). What a great person. He was giving me feedback on the (soon to be released!) beta version of Hopscotch and our conversation devolved into a discussion about the challenges of designing visual programming languages, how to moderate communities of kids, why more girls/minorities don’t get into coding, visual...
Stuff girls hack: →
This was just a stray tweet from Sam the other day, but I thought it worthy of a tumblr post. It’s indicative of the reason that we need more girls coding: totally different tech products get built when women are responsible for designing (rather than just using) technology. And in a world awash in data, saving a little time when picking gym classes is a worthy use of programming skills.
Computer Coding: It's Not Just for Boys →
“Messages about gender and technology tend to start in earliest childhood, when boys are encouraged to play computer games and think about how things work, while girls get toy makeup and fashion sets, Ms. Parmar said.” —Computer Coding: It’s Not Just For Boys I was appalled by this exact observation several years ago, at a holiday party, where all the boys got robots and...
International Women's Day: Celebrating Women in... →
Thank you to Maurya Couvares for featuring us in this article about women in tech in honor of International Women’s Day! “Currently, only 3 percent of tech startups are led by women, and less than 20 percent of bachelor’s degrees in computer science are granted to females.” Yep, we say it a lot here but it always bears repeating: the gender ratio is terrible. Maurya...
At ToyFair 2013, the iPad is the real plaything →
More evidence that kids love iPads. That’s one of the reasons we decided to make Hopscotch a native iOS app. As much as Android might be growing as a platform, there are too many individual Android devices with different sized screens to design a great user experience for all of them. HTML5 is a solution many devs gravitate towards, but it’s clunky, doesn’t work offline and...
To a future woman in tech... →
“I hope that being a female developer ceases to be a novelty.” Yes yes and yes to everything here.
User Testing with 5th Graders
One of the best things about working on a product for kids is user testing. Yesterday we headed over to Fraser Woods Montessori in CT to A/B test with 10 year olds in Patrice Gans’ computer class. A typical dialog: Us: We need your help with something. Them: OUR help?? ((Eyes grow wide)) ((Exaggerated expressions of shock and awe)) Us: We need you to be beta testers for our iPad...
Just did a google search for Daisy the Dino (our early kids programming app) and came across this great video tutorial made a couple of months ago by the folks at Lambeth City Learning Center. We love that folks are playing with it!
We got the @hopscotch twitter handle!
Testing the new tumblr auto tweet. It turns out it is easier to get your company name twitter handle than it is to get your domain name, as long as the twitter squatter is dormant. And you have a friend that works at twitter. Thanks @gwb!
Iridescent Girls Hack Day
Yesterday we headed up to the Bronx to mentor some amazing girls. They were making Android apps using app inventor in preparation for the Technovation Challenge, a program put on by Iridescent Learning to get high school girls programming mobile apps. For anyone that missed it but is interested in programming mobile apps, you might follow along with these tutorials that teach you to program...
Review of Daisy by Doug Pete →
Nice little review of our app Daisy the Dino by Doug Pete. Posted about a month ago. Check it out!
Hopscotch in Forbes →
Just looking over our blog and realized we hadn’t posted this Forbes article that came out a few months ago. We have done zero press (still trying to get the product to a place we like) but it’s nice to know that folks have heard of us.
Another response to Learnable Programming →
Put out some strong statements, and get some strong opinions in response. Check out Mark Chu-Carroll’s response to Victor’s article. Glad this is a hot discussion topic these days.
Learnable Programming Part II: Dump the parts...
Dump the parts bucket onto the floor. (Like these LEGOs). In Part I we talked about some great points from Bret Victor’s Learnable Programming. Here’s what he got wrong: towards the end of the piece he calls visual programming languages “worthless”. However, one of his major design principles is creation by reacting- i.e. “dumping the parts bucket on the...
If you’re involved with teaching programming or building new languages/IDEs, by now you’ve probably read Bret Victor’s excellent essay about the epistemology of programming. Wow. What a clear and thoughtful piece. Part of what’s great about his approach is that he doesn’t subscribe to the coder-as-ninja school of thinking where coding is just really hard and only...
Goldie Blox: A Kids' Toy to Bring More Women Into... →
We love GoldieBlox, an engineering toy for girls. It’s aimed at girls as young as 8 and the design is definitely feminine and appealing. Instead of just giving you a set of blocks and instructions the engineering challenges of GoldieBlox are embedded in a story. We would have loved to play with this as kids. They’re currently doing a kickstarter campaign- this definitely a must-buy...
Pair programming →
Nice hat tip to pair programming by WSJ. Sam’s a Pivotal Labs alum, so we’re naturally a huge fan of it here at Hopscotch. With the right pair, it’s a terrific way to transfer institutional knowledge and turn a novice coder into an experienced “rockstar” one. Maybe some day, when we’re advanced enough, we’ll even try spooning.
Hacker School + Etsy = more women engineers!
Etsy’s offering another ten hacker grants for women during the fall batch of Hacker School. So awesome. They got to gender parity (!!!) with women grants for the last batch. Tweet and send to qualified women if you want to help spread the word. Sample tweet: Want to become a better programmer? @Etsy sponsoring $5k @HackerSchool grants for women https://www.hackerschool.com (last...
The Takeaway did a segment this morning about...
Girls Who Code
We had a great time last week doing a workshop with Girls Who Code—a terrific summer program in NYC that brings together high schoolers with an appetite and aptitude for programming. When starting out, Reshma Saujani, the program’s founder, repeatedly faced the question: “but do girls even really want to learn about technology?” The hundreds of applications they received...
Check us out: "Faces of NYC Tech in 2012" →
Hey hey—Hopscotch is on this list! Great bunch of folks here—we’re honored to be included. What a nice tech scene we have here in NYC…big enough to have a diversity of company types, but small enough that folks mostly know each other.
Girls, Women, and Having It All
Ann-Marie Slaughter’s article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” has been tearing up the internet since its publication last Wednesday. It has been widely debated and has generated more page hits for The Atlantic than any other article previously published. With two women co-founders here at Hopscotch, a lot of what she wrote resonated strongly for us. But this is...
Google Blockly →
Check out Google Blockly, a new visual programming language from Google. It seems to be the successor to App Inventor (which our buddy @gleitz worked on while at Google). It’s a lot like in-browser Scratch, with the option to see your code generated in JS or Python. We likey, Blockly! We’re big fans in general of visual programming languages for beginners, since they eliminate...
Kickstarter projects to inspire your kids in STEM
There’s been a lot of talk lately about kickstarter as the harbinger of an electronics revolution. Normal people can now get the funding they need to turn their prototypes into products. For some this means creating new and awesome toys that will inspire kids to explore the fun parts of technology. Roominate is a kit for girls to design and create their own dollhouse rooms. Unlike an...
Debrief: Programming workshops with kids
Over the past two weeks, we’ve done two Scratch programming workshops with 10-12 year olds. We wanted to see how responses to programming differed between visual drag-and-drop languages and code typed into an editor (we’d already worked with kids using our HopscotchKits app, and taught HTML at Coder Dojo NYC). In the first workshop, we covered basic Logo-style drawing within Scratch....
How NOT to teach your kid to program
Since last fall we’ve been creating products to help kids learn programming. Here are a few lessons we’ve learned along the way: It’s much easier to be creative when you are given a framework: Kids like to create things but they have no idea what. Most will just look confused when they are faced with a blank project. Once you give them some guidance (eg: “see if you can...
Samantha John's Blog: How my mom inspired me to be... →
samanthajohn: When we were kids, my brother and I always knew that our questions about math or science class should be directed at mom. She had a masters in Chemistry and had been working on a PhD before ultimately attending medical school. It was always clear to us that she knew her stuff when it came to…
Language choice in learning to code
Some folks believe that which specific computer language you learn to code in is very important. Others say it doesn’t matter, programming languages are as similar to each other as French, Spanish and Italian. Learn one well, and you’ll be able to learn other ones very easily. That’s the idea behind Udacity’s blog post about why they teach their courses in Python. It...
Terrific interview with Maria Klawe, the president...
How the iPad is changing education →
Paper iPad app hits 1.5M downloads in 2 weeks →
After our post on helping users create beautiful things a friend sent us to the excellent Paper app for the iPad. This app is free and I highly recommend it, a definite proof of that concept.
One girls story- how she started programming →
We love the idea of “Computer Bob, Rectangle Keyboard”!
Methods to Avoid Madness
Many programming students have initial difficulty with the more abstract concepts of programming. For instance: variables and methods (two concepts that often come hand and hand) are really hard to grasp without any context. Once Jocelyn asked Sam and Evan: what exactly is a variable? and neither of them could give a clear definition. When you encounter new vocabulary in a new field, you want...
Puzzle school →
A new site by an old colleague of Sam’s- learning by puzzle! I especially enjoyed the italian one. Ciao!
Opinionated Tools: Forcing Your Users To Make...
Jocelyn had an art teacher colleague whose students consistently brought home beautiful, abstract works of art. The school even used kindergartners’ art as holiday cards. If you’ve ever seen little kid art, this is no small feat. The trick was that the art teacher took away a painting when it got to be beautiful work of abstract modern art, before the kids started adding too many...
Type Connection- a typing dating game →
We love this concept. Not having a dedicated designer on the team means that we often have to fend for ourselves until we can hire a freelancer for the task at hand. This is a great resource to get decent typography on your site with minimal fuss.
Slate article on the disappearance of _Why and... →