Book recommendation: An Elementary Introduction to the Wolfram Language
Stephen Wolfram is one of the pre-eminent scientists and one of my favorites. I’ve been following his work with fascination for a long time now. You can read about his prodigious childhood and his other achievements on his Wiki page (He wrote three books on particle physics by age 14). He is known for his work on cellular automata and his company Wolfram Research. He is a huge proponent of computational thinking and his own words “[it is ] an incredibly important thing to be teaching to kids today. There’s always lots of discussion (and concern) about how to teach traditional mathematical thinking to kids. But looking to the future, this pales in comparison to the importance of teaching computational thinking. Yes, there’s a certain amount of traditional mathematical thinking that’s needed in everyday life, and in many careers. But computational thinking is going to be needed everywhere. And doing it well is going to be a key to success in almost all future careers.”
He wrote a long post in 2016 about how to teach computational thinking to kids.
I would encourage every parent to read it and ask their kids to use Wolfram Alpha as their search engine instead of always resorting to Google. The Wolfram Language covers a huge range of areas, from traditional STEM-like areas to art, history, music, sports, literature, geography and so on. It goes beyond a traditional search engine and introduces kids to play with the information to understand better and even get better insights into data all the while having fun.
Wolfram Alpha (www.wolframalpha.com) platform is such a rich computational platform that can help kids of any age on any subject they are interested in. By mastering the language and understanding the several “self-service” solutions, we can get them started on this. To get started on the platform, you can use WolframAlpha like a search engine but if you want to do more, you can use the Wolfram Notebook platform. The book doesn’t assume any previous knowledge of programming or even math.
The book is available for free here: http://www.wolfram.com/language/elementary-introduction/.
Checkout this one example: Say we want to teach kids about history, you can compare of the use of “horse” and “car” in books over the last 300 years.
Try the same thing for names of countries, or inventions, or whatever; there’s always lots of history to discuss.
This will open their mind up in ways that is not possible with just reading or discussing one book. Please read this, let your kids read it and explore the platform.