Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Ada Lovelace Resources for Kids and Teens

The second Tuesday in October is Ada Lovelace Day. Lovelace was an English computer science visionary in the Victorian era. She's a fascinating character that all Tech Age kids should learn about.

Note that the October date is just one of convenience. Lovelace's birthday is December 10th according to her page on Wikipedia so that's another good date to remember her on.

December 10th 2015 is the 200th anniversary of Countess Lovelace's birth so that's a fantastic date to celebrate.

I've talked to my children aged 7 and nearly 9 about Ada Lovelace this morning before school and I'll share some more resources with them this evening.

Why Should Young People Learn about Ada Lovelace?

The Tech Age is now well and truely established. The Victorian era was a time of discovery and laid the foundations for the modern era. Ada's story is a key part of the history of computing. I think history is important to fully understand today's technology and how we got to here. I also think that sense of connecting to the past is important culturally. It's also cool to be able to make the connection when you come across something named after Ada. 

Ada sadly died at the age of 36. This means that her work was done at a young age. And of course it's good for everyone to understand that women have been contributing to the technology field from the start.

Who Was Countess Lovelace?

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was born in England in 1815. She was a collaborator of Charles Babbage, inventor of the Difference Engine and Analytical Engine - forerunners of the modern computer. These were theoretical machines, Babbage build prototypes but didn't manage to complete them.

Lovelace showed great insight into understanding the application of the Analytical Engine and what the descendants of such machines would be capable of in a future which is our present.

Lovelace is also famous for being the daughter of the poet Byron.

Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day is a celebration of women in STEM intended to encourage more women into the technical professions.


  • BrainPop: Ada Lovelace animation. We're really big fans of Moby and Tim over at BrainPop. They often tackle technical topics with plenty of humour and a hint of the surreal. We watched their treatment of Ada Lovelace this morning and it fueled a good discussion on the way to school. BrainPop is a subscription service but the Ada Lovelace video is free to watch at time of writing.
  • Ada Lovelace Day Resources for Schools. A set of scenario-based teaching resources for children aged 11-14. I particularly like the Ultrobot scenario in which children investigate gender bias in a toy robot (we've previously considered whether we need different tech toys for girls and boys.) 
  • CodeClub have an Ada's Poetry Generator Scratch project for children which is a fantastic way to celebrate Ada's technical and creative skill. 
  • Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine is a new picture book for children written by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by April Chu. The book tells the story of Ada's life and will be enjoyed by little kids and big kids.
  • For young girls, the Lottie doll website has a downloadable biography of Ada Lovelace. Lottie is designed to be a normal kid-shaped doll that promotes positive play patterns. We like the Robot Girl Lottie doll. 

  • Hank Green has a SciShow video about Ada Lovelace which is well worth watching for teenagers and adults too. (Well I'd watch Hank Green talk about anything to be honest. But I think I'm being objective!)

  • There's a good selection of Ada Lovelace-themed t-shirts and other merchandise at Zazzle including items featuring the fabulous Google Doodle from 2012. 

Happy Ada Lovelace Day

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