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[school-discuss] Re: [vox] ISO: Good programming language to teach an 8yr old

on Fri, Mar 19, 2004 at 10:19:19AM -0800, Bill Kendrick (nbs@sonic.net) wrote:
> Back when I was 8 years old (about 20 years ago now!), I programmed in
> BASIC on my Timex Sinclair 1000 and Atari 1200XL computers.
> Today, I've been asked to tutor a very smart (but currently far
> too Windows-saavy for his and his parents' own good) 8 year old kid.
> He's got a Pentium (which doesn't work, and it sounds like Windows is
> broken), and I'm thinking of installing Linux for him.  (He's used it before,
> and likes what he's seen.)  I think he's ready to start picking up 
> programming, as it will provide him with a creative outlet for all that
> computer geek energy he has.
> What's a good, kid-friendly language for today's kids to use (on Linux,
> of course!)?


    apt-get install ucblogo

    Package: ucblogo
    Priority: optional
    Section: devel
    Installed-Size: 1966
    Description: a dialect of lisp using turtle graphics famous for
    teaching kids
     This is the UC Berkeley implementation of logo written primarily by
     Daniel Van Blerkom, Brian Harvey, Michael Katz, and Douglas
     Orleans.  This version of logo is featured in Brian Harvey's book
     _Computer_Science_Logo_Style, _Volume_1: _Symbolic_Computing_ (ISBN
     0-262-58151-5).  This version provides the following special
      - Random-access arrays.
      - Variable number of inputs to user-defined procedures.
      - Mutators for list structure (dangerous).
      - Pause on error, and other improvements to error handling.
      - Comments and continuation lines; formatting is preserved when
        procedure definitions are saved or edited.
      - Terrapin-style tokenization (e.g., [2+3] is a list with one member)
        but LCSI-style syntax (no special forms except TO).  The best of
        both worlds.
      - First-class instruction and expression templates.
      - Macros.

I'll be doing some similar research myself.

> I've though about picking up some Python and passing my knowledge on
> to him, but of course I'd rather ask the educators and other experts
> on various mailing lists for suggestions, since many of you have
> already dealt with this problem before.

Turtle's probably good because it shows procedural thinking _and_
produces immediate results.

I'd look at Python for more advanced work.  IIRC there's some
kid-oriented stuff w/ Python.

I prefer using real tools rather than "teaching" tools which mean
learning a "real" tool later on.  Though I'd probably aim for 10-12
before going to the real languages.


Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
   Microsoft Trustworthy Computing:

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