[Etoys] simplifying basic category

subbukk subbukk at gmail.com
Thu Nov 1 15:09:35 EDT 2007

On Thursday 01 November 2007 11:37 am, Yoshiki Ohshima wrote:
>   Subbu,
> > The current slots/commands in basic category is part turtle geometry and
> > part cartesian geometry. I recast the viewer to include only turtle
> > geometry primitives in basic to make etoys easier for children who are
> > yet to develop intuitive understanding of co-ordinates. Why present two
> > systems when one is sufficient?
>   Even if we follow this line of thought, you would still like to keep
> "heading" in the basic category, yes?
I am not so sure. Three reasons. Firstly, heading counter is not really needed 
to "play turtle". 5-7yr olds are quite sensitive to small changes and the 
changing counters could divert their attention from the etoy. Secondly, 
heading is based on an absolute reference. Body systonic movements are always 
relative and there is no fixed "north". Older children who understand 
absolute measures will intuitively reach out into geometry for the heading 
counter. Thirdly, "north" is forward only for top-view (as in children 
playing with toys on the floor). When sketching on screen, children tend to 
draw side-view or front-view and then the "forward" movement is disconcerting 
(cf. Alan the mouse in Squeaky tales video).

> ... the
> first thing the end-user does after painting/instantiating an object
> is to pick it up by a mouse and move.
Seymour Papert invented the "turtle" to get children to steer it indirectly 
through instructions and not through direct manipulation. Picking up etoys 
and moving them around helps build hand-eye co-ordination but I believe 
opening up the etoy and controlling its behavior through scripts is what 
stimulates deep learning thru body systonic explorations.

>   In future systems, the end-user should be able to reorganize the
> categories for each object.  This way, a teacher can set up a nicer
> material, for example.
Excellent! The "tear off" could also be used for a new slot instead of the "v" 
button. Both variables and behaviors could be added by 
tear-off->define->categorize sequence

> You have a point, but but for now, I think 
> current affair is "ok".
It serves 9-12yrs well. I was trying to reach down to younger kids. The Basic 
tab in the catalog does not have an etoy. An low cost change would be to add 
a turtle sketch with pen down and black color nib, so children can start 
using it to create pen trails right away.

>   In future systems, various different notation/representation of
> vectors should be really nice, too.  What kind of notation would be
> good for children?
The arrow serves well to indicate both direction (head) and length (stem).

> > I would have liked to make "pen down false/true" to "pen down/up" but I
> > am yet to figure out a simple way to get Boolean slots to support
> > arbitrary strings/symbols instead of just true/false values.
>   Hmm, you might have to define a new DataType for it...
That wouldn't be extensible. I am trying to get Boolean slots to display any 
two names - up/down, inside/outside, dead/alive etc. so that the tile names 
reflect real world behaviors and don't look contrived.


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