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First-graders are learning how to code, and it's easier than you think.

It's time to teach our kids to control their technology instead of the other way around.

First-graders are learning how to code, and it's easier than you think.

Becoming a parent changes your perspective on everything. Just ask dad and entrepreneur Vikas Gupta.

Gupta is a computer whiz whose company, Jambool, was acquired by Google in 2010; right around that time, he and his wife welcomed their first child, a daughter, into the world. Needless to say, life was good for his family.

In an effort to celebrate life, Gupta and his wife left their jobs to travel around Europe and show their baby girl the beauty of the world.


Gupta enjoyed daddy-daughter bonding, but he felt he could do more to help children all over the world. All photos from Wonder Workshop and used with permission.

But as Gupta looked into his daughter's eyes, he couldn't help but wonder what would come next. Traveling the world wouldn't last forever, yet he cherished that time with his daughter.

"I realized that I wasn't ready to give up these bonding moments easily," Gupta told Welcometoterranova. "Whatever I did next needed to mean something and make a positive difference in the world."

It was time for him to go back to work, and in doing so, he would introduce kids to something he loves deeply: coding.

It's no secret that Gupta believes learning technology is essential, but his real aha moment came when he noticed what other countries are doing to help young children embrace the tech world.

And no, "embracing the tech world" doesn't mean having a kid glued to a tablet for hours on end playing Angry Birds.

Get off that iPad, kid!

It's about teaching our kids to control the technology they use, not the other way around.

For example, the tiny country of Estonia teaches their first-grade students how to code. In contrast, Gupta noticed that 90% of high schools in the U.S. do not offer computer science classes. It doesn't take a computer genius to realize that elementary schools in the U.S. probably aren't teaching computer science either.

"I wanted to find the solution that will engage young kids and be an effective tool for them to learn to code on their own," Gupta said.

His solution? Robots. Adorable but highly intelligent robots.

Gupta created a company called Wonder Workshop that uses robotics to teach code in a way that a first-grader can understand.

Meet the two stars of the show.

Dash is a robot that kids can program to dance, race, and have a variety of adventures with by using simple drag-and-drop tablet interfaces on Wonder Workshop's free apps.

It comes preprogrammed with a variety of different sounds (kids can record their own sounds, too), and it can detect and identify the sound of someone's voice.

Be warned, parents. In some cases kids will use their coding skills to help Dash pull pranks on grown-ups. But, hey — at least they're learning some useful, right?

Gotcha, Mom! GIF via Wonder Workshop/YouTube.

Dot, the little blue ball on top, acts as the "brain" of the robot. Kids can code it to play over 100 different games using the app.

Meet Dot, the tiny blue robot.

Hot potato is one of many examples.

GIF via Wonder Workshop/YouTube.

Think of Dot as the entry-level course to robotics and coding.

"Not only are the bots designed to grow and learn with their child user, but the kids themselves can code their own programs and customize their bots with their own unique personalities," Gupta said.

But what makes Dash and Dot cool and revolutionary?

"They solve a problem that most parents, kids, and teachers face," Gupta said. "They keep children engaged in computer science without making it boring, tedious, and complicated."

Most importantly, they solve the problem by not being gender or age specific. Boys and girls love the robots. Same with teenagers and toddlers. It's pretty rare to find a toy that checks all of those boxes while being educational at the same time.

Wonder Workshop even caught the attention of Melinda Gates who recently called Dash "the most fun way to foster coding skills through robotics."

Melinda's husband, Bill, backed her up, too.


That's high praise.

It's just the kind of difference Gupta imagined when he thought about doing something that would affect the world and help kids like his young daughter.

In fact, Melinda Gates said the most meaningful gift she ever received was an Apple III computer from her dad when she was in high school because it fostered a love of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Gupta hopes he will inspire young children with Dash and Dot as well.

It definitely looks like he's on the right track.

Check out the Wonder Workshop video below.


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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.