Are there any CS/Engr Books for kids?
April 20, 2008 9:47 AM   Subscribe

When asked, I couldn't recommend any good Computer Science or Engineering books for kids. Do such books exist? To avoid buying a stack and going through them myself, can anyone recommend any?

I work for my university and put on robotics workshops for kids grades 4-12 (typically the bulk of the crowd is in the grade 4 - 7 range). After we build and program our Mindstorm's robots, the kids are always eager for more.

Typically my default response is to direct them to MIT's Scratch program, which is free online, however at this last workshop, a girl directly asked me if there were any good kids books for learning about Engineering and Computer Science. It sounded like she was interested in both the traditional 'textbook' style books and project books. I wanted to tell them to get a subscription to MAKE Magazine, but I think that might be a little to old for them. I also don't want to tell them to just do Google searches, as I can't assume about what kind of access or rules they have at home regarding internet use. Having said that, if there is a fantastic online resource, I would love to know about it.

I know there are a lot of the Mad Science style Chemistry books, but are there any good Engineering/Computer Science project books, or some good Math/Computer Science style puzzle books?
posted by billy_the_punk to Education (8 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Not a direct answer to your question about books for kids, but here are two nice programming environments for kids:
posted by wireless at 10:24 AM on April 20, 2008

This was on the blue last week.
posted by djb at 10:54 AM on April 20, 2008

Best answer: The Cartoon Guide to Computers provides good, accessible but not dumbed-down, coverage of a lot of important fundamental concepts. It may be dated on specifics, though.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:32 AM on April 20, 2008

Best answer: If Inside the Machine had been around when I was in grades 4-7, I would have loved it.
posted by cmonkey at 11:41 AM on April 20, 2008

Try Code by Charles Petzold.
posted by Gyan at 12:10 PM on April 20, 2008

Best answer: David Macauley's "the way things work."

Its a fantastic book that shows how all sorts of everyday appliances and tools work-- and also explains the physical principles behind them-- things like force, and the mechanical advantage of levers and pulleys, and electrical circuits and so forth.

This also quite naturally leads to a great idea for a hands-on activity-- an appliance autopsy.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 12:34 PM on April 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Mmm. Good help so far on the books! In a sea of resource materials, it's nice to know if someone has used them and enjoyed them. So many books are outdated, or poorly written. I'll be sure to pass these titles on to the kids.

And djb, thanks for the nod to CS Unplugged, and while I second that it's a great book (we have a copy at work), those activities are designed to be taught - as in you need a group of students. I already have a copy and try and integrate the activities into my workshop, but I'm looking more for solo style books that a kid can use on their own at home.
posted by billy_the_punk at 1:11 PM on April 20, 2008

I used to own a copy of "Thinking about TLC logo:a graphical look at computing with ideas" which was a 1984 book by John Allen. It used cute, somewhat cheesy cartoons and puns to introduce LOGO programming and various aspects of computer science, such as object-oriented programming. While it is old, I think the concepts would still hold up today.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 2:16 PM on April 20, 2008

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