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future of computer science | all ages

What technologies will we be using in the future? Using the historic speed of technological advancement as inspiration, develop your own idea about what the future will hold.

explore

Did you know that the first mechanical computer, the Babbage Difference Engine, was invented in 1822? Well…it was designed, but never built. The first computer wouldn’t be built for another 100 or so years, and these early computers were all about actual computations. Long before the internet, emails, and online games, we needed these machines to solve our biggest math problems!

The internet didn’t come around until the 1970s and 1980s (an exact date is hard to determine), and it changed everything! Beyond math, information, or even entertainment, the internet made technology about something even more important: communication.

The evolution of personal computers, cell phones, appliances, and even our clothes and accessories have been influenced by the rise of the internet and increasing reliance on high-tech inventions. To learn more about the history of computing, check out this visual timeline from the Computer History Museum.

Check out this video to explore some of the many ways computer science is making an impact on our lives right now.

imagine

Computers have changed so much about the way we live — just ask a grownup about what computers were like when they were young! What new computerized technology do you think we will be using when you grow up? Now that you know more about how we got here, imagine the future of computer science and design an awesome piece of technology that you hope will become a reality in the future.

As you’re imagining what you might create, think about the following questions:

  • Who is it for? Who will be the user(s) of your tech of the future?
  • What does it do? What is the job or purpose of your futuristic device?
  • How does it work? What ideas do you have about how to make your idea come to life?
  • What does it look like? What size is it? What is it made of?

Need more inspiration? Check out one person’s ideas about the world of tech in 2050.

create

Got an idea? Time to create a prototype! When inventing something new, it’s always helpful to create a prototype. Prototypes are models that allow us to test our ideas and see how they would work in real life before spending the time and money to create the real thing. There are two types of prototypes:

A looks-like prototype shows what we imagine our invention will look like when it’s finished, but does not actually work. Looks-like prototypes help designers answer questions about the best shape, size, materials, and layout for their ideas.

A works-like prototype is a way to test ideas about how your idea will function without worrying about making it look like the final product. Many works-like prototypes focus on how the technology behind an idea will work, rather than the design of the gadget itself.

You can make either a looks-like or a works-like prototype for your idea (or both!) using any materials or technology you have available. If you’re planning to create a looks-like prototype, check out these cardboard construction techniques that might help you build your idea with materials you have in the recycling bin!

Be sure to send photos, files, or sketches of your design to us at socialmedia@kid-museum.org!