Nokia tablet

Nokia N1 Android tablet: an iPad mini lookalike with the first reversible USB port

Visually the tablet is a dead-ringer for the iPad mini, but the N1 actually manages to be both thinner and lighter than Apple’s tablet – just 6.9mm thick and weighing in at 318 grams.

The N1 looks very healthy spec-wise, with a 2.4GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and 8-megapixel and 5-megapixel cameras on the back and front.

‘Z Launcher’ software: essentially a customized lock screen that studies your habits to give you the right app at the right time of day (eg, email in the morning, Instagram at night) while also letting you launch apps by scribbling the first letter of their name.

The N1 is launching first in China February 2015 for $249 (around £160 – the same as the iPad mini) but it’s not clear when it’ll be making its way to the US or UK.

Finland Eyes Programming Classes for Elementary School Students

Finland Eyes Programming Classes for Elementary School Students


Beyond Mindcraft: Games That Inspire Building and Exploration

1. Garry’s Mod 

garryscreenshotGarry’s Mod (GMod) is a sandbox game like Minecraft but instead of building and exploring, students use a fun physics engine that simulates things like gravity and mass. They also use a virtual toy box of assets from Valve Software’s popular games. The tool is a step up in complexity from the elegant simplicity of Minecraft, but with Garry’s Mod,students are exposed to physics concepts while having madcap fun.

2. Kerbal Space Program

kerbal_screenshotKerbal Space Program has a robust physics engine too, but it’s more focused than Garry’s Mod. Players purchase rocket parts, put them together, and then see if they can get a ship into orbit, to one of two moons, or even to another planet. These aren’t easy tasks, so play is focused on trial and error testing, and, like Minecraft, seeking help from the community is part of a successful strategy.

3. Sound Shapes 

soundshapes_screenshotSound Shapes is a visually stunning platform puzzle game set to a rich musical soundscape. Even better: students can create and share their own levels – like interactive sheet music — using sounds and objects unlocked by playing the platform game. It’s an accessible entry point into musical composition as well as game design, and provides an experience that builds on the creativity of Minecraft while offering something wholly unique for music lovers.

4. DIY

DIYFor creative kids who want to get their hands dirty, check out DIY, a site where students can find things to build, instructions for how to build them, and ways to share their creations with others. All projects are aligned to 50 skills that run the gamut from outdoors to indoors, and feature various challenges to complete and cool badges to earn and display.


screen568x568Computer programming is a great next step for students who love to mod Minecraft or toy around with the redstone resource (which simulates basic logic and circuitry). One solid entry-level tool is Stencyl, a game creation program focused on codeless, cross-platform game making. By snapping blocks of code together, students can create games that can be published and played on a variety of platforms including mobile phones.


Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 3.31.05 PMCodecademy is a web-based, self-paced site that teaches actual industry-standard languages like PHP, Javascript, Python, Ruby, HTML, and CSS. While students don’t create publishable games like they would in Stencyl, their learning is purpose-driven and contextualized, e.g. JavaScript for web development or Ruby for app development. And students do get to see their code’s output directly onscreen.

Minecraft has introduced a lot of youth to games as well as the critical thinking, problem solving, and creation skills necessary for self-motivated learning. The games and sites on this list have the potential to extend that learning, providing fresh outlets for self-expression in the digital world and beyond.