This is a continuous research topic, which is updated as I advance and find time to update it / last updated 2021-03-14 20:00 CET
My interest in computers began at the age of 8—about the time, when the 6502 CPU enabled the personal computer revolution, and the Apple ][, the BBC Micro and the likes were created.
David Bowie says in one interview, that he started to make music, because it was a tool of change. Ten or twenty years later, and he would have become just a fan, a collector of records.
Anthony Bourdain writes, in Kitchen Confidential, that he became a cook because of the subculture.
Technology was, to me, something similar. I was fascinated by the people, who did it, and I loved what it did. I also dreamt of owning a zoo (like Gerald Durrell), a bookstore, a publishing house, to be a photograph and a cameraman (like Vittorio Storaro), but for one reason or another, like Bowie, in these areas I remained just a fan.
Kids and Mentors
In My Family and Other Animals Gerald Durrell is mentored by Dr. Theodore Stephanides at the tender age of 10—which establishes and gives a perspective to his interest in animals and nature. Durrell ends up writing numerous books and founding his own zoo on the Island of Jersey, which is still there even today.
There is countless proof (which I am documenting, by and by), that at age 8—12 the primary curiosity develops in most (if not all) children.
And that w/ proper tutoring, it can remain there for life.
Real Unlimited Continuum
I have always found toys disappointing. Toys have a limit. A toy sewing machine cannot really do stuff.
At age of 8 I was inspired to design a machine, which my father’s company could actually build. My father, however, remained vague about the “actually build” part. When I insisted, I found out that there was no way they would build it. I immediately lost interest. When my 10 years old daughter wanted to try a graphic tablet (not those things w/ a display we call tablets today, but the black plastic ones w/ a stylus, where the drawing is visible on the computer’s screen)—I had the choice between buying a toy one and a professional one. And I went for the professional. The result was that she had the real experience, did tons of stuff w/ it and is still using it, a decade later. I believe, that when trying, children must have the real experience, not an imitation, which resembles the reality—a toy.
When I began my technology talent scouting & nurseries, I decided to offer kids the real thing. I went to companies and asked for real projects. They gave them to me and I gave them to the kids. And the kids delivered. There are, of course, a couple of a secret ingredients which made this success possible, but the bottom line is that I gave the kids an unlimited real continuum.
8+ / current practices and research
My current research and practice are focused on the youngest age possible—8+.
What approaches are best to capture the attention of a kid and to lead her or him on?
The Dahoum nurseries enable kids to do what they already feel they want to do. Similarly to the Hohe Schule—where horses encouraged to express natural movements.
The toolkit of a Dahoum nursery must answer to several basic requirements—
— be real — allow unlimited continuum — appeal to kids 8+ — appeal to both girls and boys
block-based visual programming languages
Scratch encourages sharing, reuse and combination of code.
Scratch is powered by the MIT MediaLab and is deeply rooted in scientific approach to education.
Dahoum founded and is leading a MeetUp in Darmstadt dedicated to Scratch, focused on parents and educators on one side and on kids on another.
Dahoum supported the Amsterdam Light Festival w/ the development of a Scratch based tool to enable 1 000 pupils to create and animate the eyes of fantasy animals, which were then projected on screens hidden in the bushes during the Festival.
In 2020 I am leading two nurseries—at the Freie Comenius Schule in Darmstadt and at the Dr. E. Boekmanschool in Amsterdam. The nurseries go for one quarter as part of the curriculum and are then followed by continuous nursery as part the school.
I am also doing a 1920s Sam Mussabini/Theodore Stephanides inspired tutoring for individual kids.
My own research and childhood experience, as well as the Scratch statistics, show that the interest begins to explode at age of 8 and peaks (in respect to Scratch) at age of 12, when it begins to decline.
But that’s not the end.
The great thing about block-based visual programming languages, is that they offer a real unlimited continuum.
In one of the cases, where I had an insanely inspired kid, who had already pushed Scratch to beyond its borders, when he saw s2js.com—he launched like a rocket.
A third candidate (which should be probably a 1st candidate) is Modding Scratch. Modding creates Scratch functionalities and presentation, which are not available in the standard version. A great example for Modding Scratch is the Nacht Loerrrders project of the Amsterdam Light Festival, where I assisted w/ the Modding, by providing a very smart kid I had scouted several years earlier, who could do it.