Honey the kids hacked us! – Part 1

by nanoSpl0it
Categories: Coding, Python
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:Honey, the kids hacked us!:

There are many different questions that go through your head or discussions you might have when you first become a parent. Here are a few of the questions and discussions that I was apart of. 1) Organic or non-organic? 2) Cloth diapers or disposable? 3) Breast milk or formula? 4) What drinks are they allowed to have? I could go on an on with questions and discussions.

All of the above question were eventually answered, but there were a couple questions that kept floating around in my head right after my first child was born. 1) How am I going to lay some groundwork to teach them about technology in general? 2) What will help spark their interest and build their curiosity? 3) How am I going to define the word “Hacker” to them?

I started to address some of these questions by doing some research on the interwebs and started to gather some data. I want to pass some of the data that I found onto others that might have some of the above same questions when it comes to their kids. Disclaimer: I am not saying this is the best and only way to answer some of the above questions, this is merely a collection of some things that I have found thus far on my interweb travels.

One the earliest things that I came across was a very insightful presentation from Ed Skoudis, Josh Wright, and Kevin Johnson, which can be found here. The take aways that I got from the presentation (I somehwat scratch the surface of the presenters suggestions) was to focus on custom made challenges, scavenger hunts (with logic), anagrams, substitution ciphers, encouraging technology use on an everyday basis, and explaining security in general. I cannot say enough about this presentation as it has opened a lot of doors for me to interact with my kids and get them excited about security/hacking. Just pivoting from this presentation the kids and I have done  things like scavenger hunts (I need to start doing this again with harder challenges), substitution ciphers, and introduction to technology on an everyday type scenario. Some of the scavengers hunts that we have done have involved outside challenges (which involve the next clue), Santa dropping off some crazy scavenger hunts for their presents, and a lot of small challenges of researching things when they ask why something is the way it is (get their minds moving). In terms of substitution ciphers, we have sent notes back in forth with unique messages, I myself need to up the anty on this one and start doing this more frequently and with greater challenges. In regards to everyday technology use, I have created a lab that has 3 hosts that are running Edubuntu and a single Windows 7 Host. With my children being home schooled they are constantly on the computers and are finding new and exciting things on them. I wanted to make sure that they always understand that Mac OSX and Windows are not the only operating systems out there. Also, I make them in charge of making sure that the hosts are updated and patched monthly. I have a younger child that thinks that the keyboards are her drum sets and has occasionally changed settings multiple different settings on the computers, laptops and other devices around the house. When I get to be the one to figure out what was changed I tend to loop in my older 2 kids on the action. I want them to explore and not be intimidated or afraid to change things to see if it compounds or fixes the issues.

Because of the exposure to Edubuntu, there have been some doors that have opened in the area of programming for my daughters, which are 8 & 9 years old. We found laby on Edubuntu. In my honest opinion, it is a great starter for programming with kids. We have already gone through all the levels in python together each child separately. Then I requested that they work together in C++, to broaden their depth of languages. After they got bored with that I found code.org  to further feed their interest in coding. I originally introduced them to the hour of code in which they were able to code with the Disney Frozen characters (ugh Disney), which can be found here. Once my daughters finished the 20 levels I found myself looking for something else to occupy their programming interests. I ended up creating accounts for them on Code Combat, so they can play and learn at the same time. They have played code combat for some time and still play it here and there, but asked if they could actually create their own games.

So, like any nerdy dad I said “yes” and ordered two greats books from Amazon: Python-Kids-Playful-Introduction-Programming  and Invent-Your-Computer-Games-Python.

So, now we are currently working on the above books and will slowly be moving into some beginner electronics books and kits to play.  I will report back with our status in the future posts. I will be mentioning all the things that we will be using and suggestion are welcome to broaden my fun with my kids. Happing hacking and have fun!

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