What is Build to Learn?

Build to Learn is an initiative by a group of volunteers to help people learn programming by building useful micro-products. Our motto is – Build to Learn and Learn to Build.

Anyone who wants to learn or build or do both can participate. We plan to meet a few times a week in 3-4 hour coding sessions and build useful products.

The setting is informal. You can start with a simple one paragraph definition of a product and recruit volunteers to work with you on the idea. We do not have any rigid processes. The team can decide how to interact.

We had the first session on the 3rd of February and 10 of us were present. We started 4 projects. We hope you can all join and either learn or help others learn.

Who can participate? Anyone who wants to help  define  a product, code, design, and  test.

 

Technology in Farming – Robots, Mixed Reality, Machine Learning

Is manual farming sustainable as the need for agricultural products grow in demand? Can technology help? How does it impact lives of farmers? Is it the right thing to do? Like any other applications of technology, there are more questions than answers. The following links are just a set of leading indicators of trends.

Agricultural vehicles known as “cucumber flyers” enable as many as 50 seasonal workers to harvest crops.
Experts from Fraunhofer IPK in Berlin, along with other German and Spanish researchers, are studying the potential for automating cucumber harvests in the scope of the EU project CATCH, which stands for “Cucumber Gathering – Green Field Experiments.” Project partners are the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy in Germany and the CSIC-UPM Centre for Automation and Robotics (CAR) in Spain.
During the Hands Free Hectare project, no human set foot on the field between planting and harvest—everything was done by robots. This includes:
  • Drilling channels in the dirt for barley seeds to be planted at specific depths and intervals with an autonomous tractor;
  • Spraying a series of fungicides, herbicides, and fertilizers when and where necessary;
  • Harvesting the barley with an autonomous combine.

How mixed reality and machine learning are driving innovation in farming

The Economist, in its Q2 Technology Quarterly issue, proclaims agriculture will soon need to become more manufacturing-like in order to feed the world’s growing population. Scientific American reports crops will soon need to become more drought resistant in order to effectively grow in uncertain climates. Farms, The New York Times writes, will soon need to learn how to harvest more with less water.

Some Ideas for a Newbie Tweeter

I am always urging people who would listen (and even people who would not ) to blog, tweet or learn Python. A friend of mine, who finally bought into my idea asked me “What should I tweet about”. I wrote a list. I thought it may be useful to others too. So I am sharing it here.
 
I assume that you know your target audience. When you start out, you may not know. Make your best-educated guess but confirm it as you tweet and get responses.
 
  1. Tweet about your professional self. Especially, lessons you learned that you think may be relevant to your audience. 
  2. Tweet about your profession. Talk about what aspects you enjoy most.
  3. Tweet about events. Not just that the event happened but what caused it, what you see as the effect of such events.
  4. Tweet about your learning (related to your profession). 
  5. Advice to my younger self is a nice format in which you can share your insights and wisdom about life. 
  6. Share little bits of knowledge. A one-pager or a paragraph of about a topic in your industry would be a great start.
  7. Share tweets you like. Please annotate it with your observations.
  8. Ask your audience a simple open question and start a conversation. Use a hashtag to watch these conversations. 
  9. Tweet about something worth reading, listening to or watching. Mention why you are recommending it.
  10. Tweet about ideas and trends in your industry and their potential impact. This can be another interesting conversation starter.
Please share your ideas on tweeting. If you write blog posts, please tweet them and use #tweetideas as a hashtag.

5 Reasons Why Should You Host An Hour of Code

I was talking to a group of faculty members at KCG Tech on why we should ask schools to host An Hour of Code.

The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code”, to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts.

Here are some reasons why you should be interested in hosting an hour of code or help schools to host it.
  1. This grassroots campaign is supported by over 400 partners and 200,000 educators worldwide.
  2. It is an international movement to get people interested in learning to code.
  3. The first step in teaching programming is to get the learner engaged. Next steps include creating curiosity and giving them a sense of wonder. Show them what they can do with the code in a few minutes.
  4.  Students will do something different and have a lot of fun while learning. In the past couple of instances where we conducted an hour of code, many 7th graders went beyond the hour, refusing to leave the computer lab.
  5. The program will be run mostly by student volunteers and techies. We are trying to get students involved in social causes. We believe the best form for students to learn, is by teaching.

List of 100 – A Great Tool for Thinking

There are several cool tools you can use for thinking.  Two of my favorite ones are Mindmaps and Lists.

List of 100 is a great way to really stretch your mind. Here is how you do it.  Take a problem or idea. Create a list of 100 things that come to your mind. In the case of a problem, it may be a hundred ways to solve it.  In the case of an idea it may be a list of hundred thoughts (typically questions related to – Why, What, Who, When, How, Where).

I first came across the List of 100 here. Since then, I have created lists of 100 individually and in groups. We had great fun doing it and learned a lot. List of 100 is both a thinking tool and a group collaboration tool. Give it a try.