STEM Education for 3-Year-Olds: Teaching Toddlers To Count in Binary

Books Family GeekMom

A long time computer science professional and mother of a young family, Lisa Seacat DeLuca is sharing her profession with both her twins and children everywhere.

Her board book, A Robot Story, started life as a Kickstarter campaign and is now available on Amazon. Easy to read and interactive, the book explains binary at a level a young child can understand by the simple method of counting to ten.

The interactive “switches” in the board book that my daughter pretends to control based on the binary numbers provides a meaningful way to equate ones and zeros to on and off. Additionally, it expands the child’s vocabulary and uses industry jargon in a friendly way.

My four-year-old daughter even asked me what “allocate” means. The best part fo this? She later used the word to describe something else in her life.

But at the same time, the book is simple enough and short enough to read to an infant.

GeekMom had a chance to talk with Lisa about her career, family, and book’s concepts:

RobotStory2GeekMom: What first got you interested in computer programming?

Lisa DeLuca: Playing Nintendo games with my brother and sister. There is a great podcast where I talk about growing up and my interest in computers here.

GM: Where did you go to school, and what did you study?

Lisa DeLuca: I got my undergrad in computer science from Carnegie Mellon university and a masters in technology commercialization from the University of Texas

GM: Can you tell me a bit about your career, where did it start, and what do you currently do?

Lisa DeLuca: I started working for IBM right out of undergrad and have been there for about 10 years. I’m currently a technology strategist for the IBM Commerce division and the most prolific female inventor in IBM history.

GM: You made A Robot Story for your twins, can you tell me a bit about your family?

Lisa DeLuca: We just doubled! I just gave birth to another set of twins, this time girls. So we’re a happy family of six with a miniature dachshund. My husband is a scientist and the boys just turned 3.

GM: How old were your sons the first time you read A Robot Story to them, and how did they respond to it?

Lisa DeLuca: They loved the robots. I explained to them that mommy was the pink robot and they were the blue son robots and they were so happy. They’d laugh and smile every time they saw the characters.

GM: Why did a Robot Story count from zero to ten instead of zero to fifteen?

Lisa DeLuca: Mostly because most kids books are learning to count to ten so it fit well with the current state. Adding another 5 pages would’ve also made the book too long.

GM: Do you plan on writing more computer science inspired children’s books? If so, how can people stay in touch with what you are doing?

Lisa DeLuca: Yes! I have a few other ideas for follow-up stories. The best way to follow me is on my personal website or on Twitter @LisaSeacat

GM: What other ways have you taught your boys about computer science, and what has worked best at different ages?

Lisa DeLuca: My sons are only 3 so most of my teaching is just exposing them to computers. They are too young just yet to write code but I talk to them about what I’m doing so they can see how excited I am about what I do.

GM: What one thing, besides buying A Robot Story, would you recommend parents do to teach their young children about computer science?

Lisa DeLuca: Exposure, there are lots of local STEM-related classes or weekend activities for young children and families… all you have to do is look.

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