Computers are everywhere: in our homes, our cars, and our pockets. Developments in cloud-based infrastructure and the forthcoming “Internet of Things” will soon connect every aspect of our lives. With our economy now reliant upon automation and networks, it becomes increasingly important for young people to acquire the skills necessary to actively participate in the future. Unfortunately, these technological concepts are often difficult to grasp, and sometimes a little boring. A new series of youth-oriented videos and tutorials seeks to change that. It’s called The Hello World Program. Using puppets, papercraft, and animation, the project seeks to create an approachable and positive learning environment for students taking their initial steps in computer science, programming, and web development. The title is a play on the first program a beginner will often write, telling the computer to
print the phrase “Hello, World!”
The Hello World Program is the creative collaboration of brothers Jared and JR Nielsen. Growing up in rural Utah proved to be a serendipitous opportunity for the siblings. With few neighbors and structured
activities, they filled their time making puppets and short videos with their father’s camcorder. Before the Internet, they learned things the old-fashioned way: through trial-and-error and visits to the library.
“We taught ourselves the skills necessary to create our own media. Now we want to share what we know with the world,” says Jared. The brothers recognize the importance of play when tackling a new subject. Their primary goal is to make learning computer science educational and entertaining. Says JR,“The Hello World Program is the show we wish we watched as kids.”
The Hello World Program curriculum is divided into four integrated categories: computer science, Linux, Python, and web development. The host of the series, Unique ID, introduces audiences to general concepts in computer science such as, “What is a Computer?” and “What is a Robot?” In “Superusers! The Legendary GNU/Linux Show”, super friends Adelie the penguin and Aramis the gnu lead young heroes on adventures while instructing them on the basic commands necessary to master any Linux operating system, from Raspberry Pi’s to web servers. In “Daisy’s Web Dev Diary”, Daisy the fox builds web pages with her friends while guiding viewers through the basics of the foundational language of the World Wide Web, HTML. “The Nielsen Brother’s Byting Python”, a forthcoming
segment based loosely upon Monty Python’s Flying Circus, takes a completely different approach to teaching the Python programming language with humorous sketches and witty wordplay. One of the
aims of the Hello World Program is to remove the economic barrier associated with educational access.
These tools are not only free, they are rapidly gaining in popularity and provide a powerful foundation for any to student to build upon.
Not everyone needs to be a computer scientist, but every computer user, which is just about everyone, should understand the basics. The Hello World Program proves that it can be fun. You may also want to visit Dototot, the Nielsen brothers parent company, where they provide tutorials on all aspects of their media production, from puppet-making to video editing. According to the brothers, “Our goal is to empower young people to make their own media and engage critically with contemporary advances in technology.”