feynlabs – executive summary

Here is the executive summary  of my new startup feynlabs (website coming soon).

  • The name is inspired from one of the greatest scientists, teachers and humanists – Richard Feynmann  .
  • Since our launch on facebook in June 2012, in three months, more than 27,000 people have LIKEd our site Concepts of Programming Languages for Kids including Peter Vesterbacka – creator of Rovio(Angry birds) aka Mighty Eagle, Prof Dr Walter Hoogland ex Director of research for CERN, Jose Valles – Telefonica/BlueVia and many more!We are grateful all the support!
  • feynlabs, home of CONCEPTS OF PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES for kids, is the first attempt to teach kids the concepts of programming languages – (as opposed to a single programming language). It is a set of techniques that focusses on the thought process behind programming languages i.e. how to think ..
  • It all started off as a hobby with me teaching programming languages to my son Aditya (now 9 years old) – until the techniques we were using were accepted as a paper by a major educational journal.  Khan Academy was always an inspiration for us and Aditya wanted to build ‘our own version of Khan academy for JavaScript’ (in his words!).
  • Some say that “Programming is the new Latin ..” – But we risk making the same mistakes .. We risk teaching people to program but not to think. We are inspired by Feynman’s quote “You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird… So let’s look at the bird and see what its doing– that’s what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.”
  • Same is the case with programming languages ..  We risk teaching children merely ‘how to program’ instead of teaching kids how to think. And the two are not the same. To paraphrase Richard Feynman: we risk knowing the ‘name of the bird’ in many languages but risk not understanding the bird itself ..
  • The ideas behind concepts of programming languages for kids were published as a paper in the May 2012 edition of one of the worlds leading educational journals Education technology publications 

The elevator pitch

  • What was the first programming language you learned?
  • Depending on which era you started computing, it could be Basic (80s), Pascal(90s), Java/Javascript (late 90s)
  • But the point is – it was a specific programming language
  • Fast forward a few years – if you did end up studying computer science, you studied the Concepts of Programming Languages or the Philosophy of Computer science (often taught in conjunction with languages not commonly used)
  • What if you could switch the two??
  • What if you could teach concepts of programming languages upfront – even to kids?
  • We are the first initiative to teach the concepts of programming languages to kids (as opposed to a specific programming language).  By abstracting the common elements of programming languages, the aim is to rapidly learn ANY  programming language
  • Inspired by Wirth (Algorithms + Data Structures = Programs), we build upon the ideas that – All programming languages can be viewed as a combination of Data structures (where you store information) and algorithms (where you encapsulate the logic).
  • Hence, from the outset, we compare and contrast multiple programming languages in our learning. We work with web based languages (JavaScript, Python), Systems languages( C language ), hardware oriented environments (Raspberry Pi, Arduino),Algorithms(R Language)
  • We are a social enterprise. Social –  because we share information freely; Enterprise –  because our service will create value for our customers. When launched, the feynlabs index is a unique way to identify upcoming tech talent

Who do we serve? .. For ..

  • Kids and the young at heart – we are a new way to learn computing
  • For society – we help in developing skills for 21 century employment by creating an interest in programming, science and mathematics
  • Companies – feynlabs is a new way to identify talent
  • Economies – we help developing an interest in technology and the possibility of new startups
 Programming was first used in Jacquard Looms    and in Programming forms the basis of every new innovation like 3D printing. Thus, we hope we can make a difference!

 

Seven principles of feynlabs

  •  We are the first initiative to teach the concepts of programming languages to kids (as opposed to a specific programming language).  By abstracting the common elements of programming languages, the aim is to rapidly learn ANY programming language
  • We value entrepreneurship. I have a Dream, that some of the young people who learn these concepts will go on to create great enterprises based on computing  to the betterment of society
  • Inspired by Wirth (Algorithms + Data Structures = Programs), we build upon the ideas that – All programming languages can be viewed as a combination of Data structures (where you store information) and algorithms (where you encapsulate the logic). Hence, from the outset, we compare and contrast multiple programming languages in our learning. We work with web based languages (JavaScript, Python), Systems languages( C language ), hardware oriented environments (Raspberry Pi, Arduino),Algorithms(R Language)
  •  We work with real life examples and solve small, specific problems
  • We emphasise algorithms and maths – for example pattern matching algorithms are similar conceptually to genome sequencing
  • We teach computing ‘inside out’. We start with the machine (raspberry Pi, Arduiono etc) and then the programs and finally the mind (algorithms)
  • We value both IPR and open source