Category: Pre-teen and teenagers

March 22nd, 2017 by admin

One unique feature of Swift is that it combines the features of a compiler with an interpreter. Xcode’s compiler lets you create apps you can distribute and sell while the Xcode interpreter, called a playground, lets you experiment with Swift commands to see how they work without having to create an entire project.

In the past, using playgrounds to learn Swift meant using a Macintosh, but Apple has released a free iPad app called Swift Playgrounds that lets you practice writing Swift code on an iPad. The only drawback is that you can’t compile Swift code on an iPad to create an actual program.

Still the latest release of Swift Playgrounds adds support for Simplified Chinese, which is the language used in mainland China. By offering Simplified Chinese language support, Swift Playgrounds can now cater to the entire mainland Chinese market.

While American schools mostly care only about price and buy Chromebooks instead of iPads, Chinese schools care more about preparing students for the future, and that means learning programming. By supporting Simplified Chinese, Swift Playgrounds can now tackle the huge educational market in China.

Swift Playgrounds is one example of a useful app that Chromebooks can’t duplicate. Apple’s future educational plans will likely include more educational apps to entice more schools, but also include more ways for teachers to customize and track student progress.

Remember, Apple recently acquired LearnSprout, a company that was dedicated to creating tools for teachers to measure and track progress of students using Apple products such as an iPad or Macintosh. By offering software features unavailable in rival products, Apple hopes to sell more iPads to the educational market.

Most likely, price will still be the deciding factor in American schools, but Chinese schools will likely look at the long-term benefits beyond initial pricing. That means Swift Playgrounds may soon be helping Chinese students learn programming and become future Apple developers.

Meanwhile, American students will be using much cheaper Chromebooks that lack educational tools such as Swift Playgrounds.

Whether Chromebooks or iPads are better for students will likely never be decided. What will be decided is that any school system that relies on iPads and Swift Playgrounds will likely create more programming students than a school system that relies on lower cost and simplicity regardless of how it affects student educational goals.

Swift Playgrounds is just one of many Apple features that can help tip schools in favor of the iPad for classrooms. It may not overcome the lower price of Chromebooks, but it’s a step in the right direction.

To learn more about Swift Playgrounds, click here.

Posted in Pre-teen and teenagers, Programming

March 13th, 2012 by admin


Most parents believe that video games waste time when kids should be engaging in healthier activities such as school, outdoor play, sports, and community service. Yet research is quickly proving the theory wrong and illustrating that gaming can be a beneficial and well-rounded part of a healthy, balanced media diet.

Moreover, due to their interactivity, at odds with passive mediums such as television, kids’ video games can actually be one of today’s most powerful tools for sparking learning and creativity. But while gaming offers tremendous potential, it also bears remembering: It takes a running commitment from parents and teachers to actively follow and participate in the pastime to make it a truly safe, healthy, and rewarding part of household life.

As Harvard Medical School researcher Cheryl Olson, ScD succinctly summarizes in Parents magazine, “Parent-approved video games played in moderation can help young kids develop in educational, social, and physical ways.” Olson’s work, which included surveying data from interviews with over 1,000 public-school students, clearly illustrates the many upsides offered by even seemingly innocuous titles — i.e., not those labeled specifically as “serious games” or “edutainment.”

“Games can definitely be good for the family,” says Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) president Patricia Vance. “There’s plenty of selection. Oftentimes I think parents feel that they’re not because video games in the media are portrayed as violent, and hardcore games tend to get the lion’s share of publicity. But parents also need to be comforted knowing that E for Everyone is by far largest category [of software]. Nearly 60% of the almost 1700 ratings we assigned last year were E for Everyone, which means there’s a huge selection of games available that are appropriate for all ages.”

What’s more, kids aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit from button-mashing (and not just because the average player is now 37 years old and more adult women play than teenage males). Research from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) actually indicates that video games can help adults to process information much faster and improve their fundamental abilities to reason and solve problems in novel contexts.

A study published in a recent edition of Archives of Surgery also says that surgeons who regularly play video games are generally more skilled at performing laparoscopic surgery. Findings by Daphne Bavelier, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, likewise reflect that video gamers show real-world improvements on tests of attention, accuracy, vision, and multitasking after playing certain titles. No surprise there, confirms Michael Stroud, a professor of psychology at Merrimack College, who explains that games’ active demands on our attention and working memory all map well to performing similarly complex real-world tasks.

What’s more, experts say, serious games and virtual environments may be the future of education. Not only do students find gaming more approachable and engaging than lectures and PowerPoint presentations, they insist on them. Simulations also provide a more inviting and lifelike context in which to make choices, see results, and apply learning in real-time. The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) states that kids actually need more, not less, video game play as a result. Citing games’ ability to prepare workers for the increasingly competitive global job market, the organization says that games promote strategic thinking, interpretative analysis, plan formulation, and ability to respond to change.

Read the full article here.

Posted in Computer games, Pre-teen and teenagers, Young children

February 9th, 2012 by admin

Decision Games

Before the popularity of video games, many military and war historians played paper war-games where pieces represented tanks, navies, armies, or airplanes. By creating rules for how each playing piece could move and attack, these paper war-games could help historians argue about the merits of certain battle plans or simulate future battles between likely enemies.

During World War Two, the Japanese made up a war-game to simulate the upcoming attack on Midway island. Based on what they thought the Americans would have at their disposal and what their own strategy would be, the Japanese attacked Midway Island in their war-game and lost when the American fleet ambushed their aircraft carriers and sank the Japanese fleet.

Outraged that the American could possibly win, the Japanese broke their own rules and allowed the Japanese team to win. When the Japanese sailed into the actual battle of Midway, the Americans wound up ambushing the Japanese fleet, ambushing their aircraft carriers, and sinking four of them, just like the Japanese war-game had predicted.

If you’re interested in both studying historical battles or simulating potential new ones, look at Decision Games, the publisher of various historical and modern war-games. These games can often be complex to learn and play, but they can give you a unique insight into the battles that changed the course of history so you can test out different tactics to see what might have been a better strategy.

More importantly, studying these paper war-games can help you better understand both geography and history while teaching you strategy at the same time. These war-games aren’t as precise as chess, but they can help bring history to life. If you think you could win the American Civil War for the South, conquer Europe back in the Middle Ages, or invade Iraq in the near future, a paper war-game can help you prove your skill as you learn.

Paper war-games more closely resemble the strategy, turn-based games of some video games like “Civilization.” However, don’t let the lack of fancy computer graphics turn you away from this fascinating aspect of gaming where history and military strategy can prove itself right before your eyes.

Posted in Board games, College students and adults, Pre-teen and teenagers

February 8th, 2012 by admin

Flight to Freedom role-playing gameBack in the 80’s, there was a series of books called Choose Your Own Adventure that would present choices to the reader and based on the options the reader chose, the book would direct them to another page to continue their adventure. While such Choose Your Own Adventure games focused on fantasy, science fiction, or adventure settings, an organization called Mission-US now offers a computer version of a Chose Your Own Adventure game, except this game involves taking on the role own a slave and trying to escape to freedom.

Flight to Freedom, lets you make choices as you flee an oppressive slave owner and risk the dangers of escaping to the North. Players not only learn about slavery in early American history, but they also learn about making choices. Make a bad choice and you’ll likely lose the game. Make a wise choice and you’ll get one step closer to freedom.

You can play this game through any browser, but if you have a slow Internet connection, you can also download a version of the game for your Windows PC or Macintosh.

While “Flight to Freedom” doesn’t offer realistic graphics or extensive role-playing features like many advanced online games, it does offer players a unique chance to relive history through the eyes of a slave so you can learn a little bit of American history that many people would rather pretend never happened.

“Flight to Freedom” is more educational with game play wrapped around it rather than an exciting game in its own right. After playing this game a few times, you’ll learn what it’s like to risk your life to escape to a better world. Read more from USA Today.

Reason to play: Teaches American history in a fun, engaging, and unique manner.

Posted in Computer games, Pre-teen and teenagers

February 5th, 2012 by admin

The Game of Life iOS edition.

THE GAME OF LIFE Classic Edition – Electronic Arts

One of the classic board games is “The Game of Life.” This game has gone through several changes to update the board, salaries, and rules, but the game remains the same. The object is to go through life, starting as a young high school graduate and choosing whether to go to college for a possibly higher paying job as a doctor or lawyer, or going straight to work and beginning a career as a police officer or an entertainer.

Besides forcing players to choose between going into debt to go to college or earning money right away, “The Game of Life” also shows the consequences of raising and paying for multiple children as you progress through life until you reach retirement age. Although the game is mostly chance, it does teach players about making decisions, handling money, and what to expect through different stages of life.

Although you can still find the board game version of “The Game of Life,” Electronic Arts now offers an iOS version of the game so you can play it on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. The iOS version remains faithful to the latest version of the board game while freeing you from handling money, remembering rules, or moving the pieces yourself. All you have to do is spin the wheel, play the game, and watch the computer take care of all the details while you get to enjoy moving through “The Game of Life.”

“The Game of LIfe” can teach anyone the basics of money management, risk, and the high cost of raising a family. If you want to kids how college can lead to a higher paying job, there’s no better way of sinking this point home than letting your kids slowly go bankrupt while other players, who did go to college, thrive with their wealth.

There’s a reason why “The Game of Life” has become a classic because it lets everyone explore the choices we all make going through life. Teach kids the value of making correct decisions that can alter their life forever and “The Game of Life” can keep kids from maintaining their short term focus and get them to think about the future, even if it’s only a game they can play on their iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad.

Reason to play: Teach kids how to make better decisions in their own life and see the consequences of making poor decisions.

Posted in Board games, College students and adults, iOS, Pre-teen and teenagers, Young children

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