In my work with gifted
students, I am mindful of the distinction to be drawn between the words "simple"
and "simplistic." In Spring 2003 I developed and taught "Click|Quick"
- Classical and Quantum Information and Computing For Kids - as part of the
Montclair State University Academic Gateways Program for gifted students.
This course was offered to a group of 4th-6th graders and to a group of
How does one go about exploring the
thermodynamics of computation with elementary and middle school kids?
Certainly not simplistically! One can't "dumb down" the First and Second
Laws of Thermodynamics, because these "Laws" are nothing more or less than a
fundamental simplification of our entire experience of the physical
universe. What seems to work best is to challenge the students to deeply
appreciate the simplicity of these basic conceptual building blocks.
This is, as it turns out, a difficult challenge for some of the brightest
students, who revel in sheer virtuosic intellectual extrapolation.
Our classroom discussions included lively
debates about how a refrigerator cools its contents and how the sun heats
the earth. Eventually, as I had hoped and expected, an exasperated student finally asked,
"Yeah, but what does all this stuff have to do with computers?" A golden
moment - "Well, I'm glad you asked..." More information is available at the