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Interview: How I explained Quantum Computing to nursery kids

In a realm where crayons are mighty, and snack time reigns supreme, Zarek, our CEO and brave Dad, dared to embark on a journey of cosmic proportions: deciphering the intricacies of computing for a room full of pre-schoolers.

In this interview, we ask him how that went.


Today you did a talk about Computers in your son’s nursery. Why did you choose this topic and how did that go?


Well, I've been interested in computers since I was a child. I became very interested in them because of all the things you can do with them. It's mind blowing really what you can do. And I wanted to share that excitement with the kids.

So I thought it would be fun to show them the development of computers, the actual physical computers through the years. I started by showing them the first computer machine that was ever made, Charles Babbage's Difference Engine. And, yeah, it's just a machine that doesn't look anything like a computer.


And what was the reaction of the kids when you showed them that?


The reaction was amazing. They were like, what is that? And they couldn't believe it. And, yeah, they got really engaged from that moment. So that was brilliant.

Charles Babbage's Difference Engine (1822)

So I thought, know your crowd, know your audience. What do kids of, you know, three, four years old, five years old, like, they like space rockets. And one of my favourite things, one of my favourite pictures in computing, is a picture of Margaret Hamilton with the big stack of printouts of all the code that took the Apollo Eleven Rocket to the moon. So I introduced that by showing a picture of the rocket first and going, hey, check this out and asking, do they think that there were computers on this and how do you make a computer do the things you want it to do?

I talked about how it's a bit like writing a story, and then I showed them the picture of Margaret Hamilton. They thought that was really cool, this huge, big stack of what looks like ginormous books. They were like whoa. That blew their minds for sure.

Computer scientist Margaret Hamilton poses with the Apollo guidance software


Is it true that you also tried to explain quantum computing to nursery children? How did that go?


I found a book called Quantum Computing for Babies. I didn't introduce it as for “babies”, though, because I didn't want to undermine these future scientists!! I was keen to show the kids about quantum computing because of that burgeoning field in our industry. And even though the book itself was a bit dry, it touched on some cool new things, like words like qubits. And actually, the kids did actually get more engaged than I had thought. They might not get so engaged in the book, but they got engaged because the book starts by talking about bits, and it's like red and blue and the ball can be red or blue, but then suddenly there's a ball that's like a rainbow colour and stuff like that.

And that really connected with the kids, who really enjoyed that. Really, what I was trying to say is this is new and I don't know about this and let's learn together. Let's just do a little bit of learning together to start with, and maybe you guys would be interested in this when you grow up, because who knows? You might be the next quantum computing whiz kids.


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