Aditi has been wanting to create an iPhone game since she was 6. When this year's science fair was coming around at her school, we asked her what she would like to do. Her immediate answer was:
"Can I make an iPhone game?"
My wife and I spent a few weeks offering up alternative science fair projects, and general discouragement, but finally I figured I would learn Game Salad, and show her how to make a racing game, or a cannon game (i.e. an Angry Birds look-alike).
A week later when I tried to show her Game Salad, she turned to me immediately, and said, "No, I want to make an iPhone game."
"What kind of game, then?" I said.
"Let me show you," she said, and ran off to show me XtraMath on the computer.
"You know how hard it is to type in the answer, like, look here," and she tried to type in "19" (in which the keys are at opposite ends of the keyboard), for example. We'd hooked up a keyboard with a numeric keypad, but that didn't help, and she'd reverted to the top row of keys, and got very upset because she couldn't provide the answers fast enough, or they came out wrong because she missed a key.
"You know how you can talk to the computer, and the words come out?"
"Uh-huh," I said.
"That's what I want."
Yikes, I thought. That's too difficult. But, we decided she would at least design the game, and I ended up showing her how to do it in Xcode—it had to be done the way that "you would do it, dad."
She explained how the screens would be laid out, how you'd set and choose this and that. Picking pictures was very important. And, the colors had to be just right. Her sister Anantika, age 8 then, pitched in as well.
The three of us worked together on the logic of the function that generates questions and multiple-choice answers to match. They knew what sort of confusing answers to give (not just random answers, mind you...).
Then I decided to give the speech recognition thing a go, and, we were just able to get the whole thing together in working order for the science fair.
Now Aditi wants to do it again a few times, until she can do the whole thing herself. If enough people find her first effort useful, maybe we'll be able to hire someone to help her program the next steps in her vision for Exciting Math.
Meanwhile, we're lobbying for her school to sign up for a program like Tynker, to make it as easy for her and her friends to learn programming as we hope it is to learn math with Exciting Math.
Anantika and Aditi chatting at the science fair.
Aditi explaing Exciting Math to her friends.
Aditi talking to the judge.