5 min read

1.2.1 Bakuro puzzles, Lazy Kids + AI, Bridges, Cat TV, Block Coding Languages

This issue has detailed links about creating and solving Bakuro puzzles, types of bridges, building a TV for your cat, and block coding languages Hopscotch and Roblox.
1.2.1 Bakuro puzzles, Lazy Kids + AI, Bridges, Cat TV, Block Coding Languages
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FYI this is an example of an email newsletter that paid subscribers receive every Wednesday. It's 5+ STEM/STEAM articles and links plus every other week a Dad joke or meme.

Welcome to this Wednesday email. Some of my favorite things are in this email, like Bakuro and Hopscotch. Plus an interesting article about teaching AI to middle school kids in a coding class, in response to our anonymous survey asking for AI-related articles. And this being only the second week publishing this newsletter, I'm still playing with how to organize content, how to feature content, and other fun stuff. Let me know what works for you so I can tailor things over time. Thanks for reading!


Bakuro puzzles are like Sudoku puzzles but with binary numbers to determine what value to place in empty puzzle squares. It’s a fun way to learn about binary numbers and solve complex puzzles.

Bakuro puzzles are Kakuro puzzles that use binary numbers. Paul Curzon at TeachingLondonComputing.org, with support from Google, has created a set of Bakuro puzzles plus blank forms to create your own. This article describes the basics of Bakuro with links at the bottom to explore more, including Kakuro puzzle links.

Bakuro, Binary, and Computational Thinking





1 and 0


Binary Number Worksheet (Excel format)


Binary Numbers Worksheet (PDF)


Binary Converter


A Tutorial on Binary Numbers


Binary Numbers (Wikipedia)




Kakuro Puzzles





KrazyDad Print-able Kakuro Puzzles



What Kind of Bridge is That?

We see bridges almost everywhere but rarely think about how they’re made or how they work. Learning about bridges is an excellent way to explore engineering, math, science, and art. It all comes together with bridges.

The problems we face today when building a bridge are the same as the problems ancient Romans, Sumerians, and the first humans had to solve. The problem: how do we get across that river? Besides simply crossing a river or a valley, bridges must also be able to support the people and their cargo as they cross. There’s a lot of thought that must go into the design.

Types of Bridges


TryEngineering: Bridges



The Laziness Doctrine Hits an AI Snag

"Students were working diligently in my lab when one student finished almost immediately. He admitted quickly that he used Replit’s Ghostwriter AI-assist to write the code and the story for him. Our ensuing exchange was closely watched by all the other students in the class, many of whom would have preferred to also use the Ghostwriter themselves.

My position was that using AI to code as a learner is akin to cheating, and it robs the young learner of the experience of writing code. The student responded by bringing up the laziness doctrine that I had mentioned a few weeks prior. If programmers are indeed lazy, wouldn’t AI be within his right to use in this case?

I have to admit I was a bit stumped by this one. On one hand, I knew I was right. Young programmers need to know how to produce clean and efficient code before they can start using Large Language Models to write code for them. However, I also realized he was right too. If anything, the laziness doctrine would have to be updated for the advent of machine learning.

After doing some research, I found that this isn’t a new tension in the world of information technology—not by a long shot. In the Ancient Greek text Phaedrus, Plato lets us know that Socrates felt the same way about writing."






Your Cat Wants a TV

Got a cat? Know a cat? Here’s a fun project to keep them amused. Becky Stern created a basic Raspberry Pi project that shows bird videos to cats, as a way to keep your cat(s) amused. Because we know what they do when they’re not amused. I love that her supply list includes at least one cat in addition to the usual electronics parts.





Block Coding Languages

The BBC Tech Decoded email newsletter ran an interesting article on a coding program for girls who like to play video games. Unfortunately, the article is not online but here are two online services that make it easy and fun to create games that might interest girls. The BBC article mentioned Roblox. Hopscotch also is a long time service with a strong community.

Hopscotch for iPad and iPhone

This is an online space where kids develop problem-solving skills while having fun creating and playing games on iPad, iPhone and the web.




Roblox is an online game platform and game creation system developed by Roblox Corporation that allows users to program games and play games created by other users. Games are coded in the Lua language, which is a good entry level language like Python. The only concern might be the micro transaction aspect, the ability to charge money to play games.





As of August 3rd, 2023, the Metropolitan Museum in New York City has released an app that lets you interact with art using Roblox. You can wear Van Gogh’s hat or Hatshepsut’s Egyptian headcloth. Download their app and then wander the museum to follow clues to fun things to download.



This Week

Our Sunday issue this week will have fun often offbeat links about the secret tricks restaurant menus play on you, the benefits of kids learning from their failures, teens and phones, bird watching in the dinosaur era, and more.