I can't speak much to Scratch or Squeak, someone else posted the link to Scratch. From a quick perusal a few weeks back they both look to me pretty accessible for beginners, visual programming paradigm, etc.
The reason I taught BugBrain was b/c its developer had a guided curriculum already built in and the system was more about logic (neural networking) than just straight programming. I took the 6th graders up through XOR / XAND and inhibitory networks, the middle- & high-schoolers up to a complex 3-chamber worm heart neural network.
What impressed me about BugBrain is that people who were otherwise phobic of programming (typically math phobic as well) took readily to BugBrain (we'd tried Python, just stock code using the Visual Python API). Interesting results with BugBrain were far
more readily attained than programming with a language. BB's neural networking metaphor embodies stock objects like stimuli, muscles, neurons, axons, synapses, gated thresholds and so on. It was far more interesting than a typical beginning programming experience b/c it was more organic and schema-like.
Maybe it wouldn't fit the typical curriculum for CS 101 but we actually covered a lot of ground in 3 weeks, and that was only with 3 hours/week access to the machines. The kids were eager to play with it and it helped them overcome mental blocks to working with logic - some found that the boolean logic lessons helped them do better in algebra. http://www.biologic.com.au/bugbrain/
The author, BTW, is Tom Morton. It never really caught on as shareware so he lets it out free. I've often wondered if he ever considered releasing the source code?
BTW, these are the
"...The cheat codes set the last open page. Click on the words "Bug Brain"
above the signpost on the opening page. Enter one of the following
words with a two digit page number. For example, naba00 will reset the
game and apta20 will give access to all pages.
Bug : bobo
Ant : apta
You can also do the same thing by editing the file bug.reg (but don't add it to the registry if asked)."
From: roberto <roberto03@xxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, August 27, 2009 4:04:40 AM
Subject: Re: [school-discuss] cs basic course
On Tue, Aug 4, 2009 at 6:19 PM, lee rodgers<sregdoreel@xxxxxxxxx
during the last few days i thought to dedicate a fraction of the
course to wiki software:
may you give me some hint about one of them which has a low starting
level ? the intended audience is willing to learn a lot but has a
basic cs knowledge
thank you anyway
> From: roberto <roberto03@xxxxxxxxx
> To: schoolforge-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Sent: Friday, July 31, 2009 3:59:30
> Subject: Re: [school-discuss] cs basic course
> On Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 3:10 AM, Bill Kendrick<nbs@xxxxxxxxx
>> On Thu, Jul 30, 2009 at 06:09:02PM -0700, Bill Kendrick wrote:
>>> I've heard a lot of good things about Scratch,
>> Wow, which they apparently hide pretty well. Found a link here:
> i know Scratch well, am using it a lot;
> unfortunately, i think it is not suitable for the audience of the course