I can remember sitting in front of our family’s first PC clone purchase assembled by the early 80’s computer company Leading Edge. I sat with the owner’s manual for hours trying to understand this new machine as I arrived at the DOS prompt after the boot disk loaded the OS into memory. Around the same time, there was the other language BASIC I had dabbled with on the middle school’s Apple IIe’s and wanted to spend more of my personal time programming at home on our new computer. Figuring out I could ‘get’ the computer to do things I had asked was earth shattering. Matched with the movies out at the time, i.e. Wargames – where a computer could communicate through the telephone lines and talk through a simulated voice box – I was on the pursuit to create something grand.
Away I went building a math program in BASIC. Lines upon lines of code to give the correct feedback to the user when they answered a simple arithmetic correctly or incorrectly. (I probably should include my fascination with the Choose your own Adventure books and their multiple solutions to one story line – how come I didn’t care for math or algebra then?). After a summer worth of programming, I submitted my math program into a Science Fair hosted at a museum in Balboa Park, San Diego. Not sure I won anything, but it was cool to stand there next to my poster boards explaining the motivation and a methodology to casual observers and curious adults wondering how the heck I pulled it off.
Some two decades later, I suppose I’m still creating things and displaying them for people to check out. I came across this video and wondered the same thing, “Why don’t students do this in schools?” As you can see from my C.V. I’m all about creativity, and as the mechanical engineer showed me, this is how I learn the best.