Tired of paper, Web app is the answer

My son is in that point in school when he has to learn the 50 states, names, locations, and capitals. I was tired of printing blank maps for him to write state names or abbreviations. He wanted to just play on the iPad all the time. So, I saw an opportunity. A few minutes later (ok, couple of hours later), I had this running.

http://perez.cs.vt.edu/states/

Pretty simple really. Collected a blank map from the web. I made fifty copies and renamed them usa1, usa2, etc. Then with a paint program (GraphicConverter), I filled a state in each with red. There are a few "boo-boos" in the images, but you get the idea.

Then I collected a list of the states, abbreviations, and capitals. I put all four columns in a spreadsheet (love Apple's Numbers) and exported a csv file.

Then PHP to the rescue (using TextMate and Terminal). I read the file, computed a random number and viola generated a question. After a little testing with my son, I split the questions into three separate questions, so he could study capitals at once, or focus on abbreviations, etc. Later he told me that he wants to enter all or any of them. Darn users, always wanting new features... reason for an update down the road.

Finally, I applied a little bit of CSS magic so that the formatting was a bit more reasonable and viola. Today, the teacher is passing it on to the students in the class... more user support for me, I don't learn.

I'll make the code available later, just look around for another posting here or on my https://github.com/mapq account.

Posted on 09/25/2012

 

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Computing Parenting

 

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