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Computer Clubhouse questions 1

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 2 months ago

> I'm starting to use Squeak at the Computer Clubhouse

> (http://www.computerclubhouse.org/), a network of after school centers

> where kids from 8-18 come to learn about technology, interact with other

> kids and develop personally meaningful projects.


> Would you please help me with the following questions?


> * How would you present Squeak to teenagers? How would you describe the

> tool? Is it a programming environment, a multi-media tool, an operating

> system, a make-your-own-game environment, or what?


It's all of those things including being an "or what", with the possible

exception of being an operating system, but I think there is a project to

create a "No O/S Squeak", but I don't know much about it.


For a sound-bite noun-phrase i'd say it's "The unique work of a team of

visionary geniuses. While its learning curve is a vertical cliff face,

Smalltalk is without question, the most productive programming language ever

created. There are several Smalltalk implementations of which Squeak is but

one. It has many many features which the others, being firmly aimed at

commerce, don't have".


> I'm also trying to

> find examples that make creative use of video and photographs. At the

> Clubhouse, kids play a lot with Director and Photoshop.


Have you been able to have a play with the Alice stuff?

Just amazing. Write a program to create an animation. The collection of

objects which are in the Objects.zip file is sufficient to have hours of fun.

I suspect that if your machine is sufficiently powerful, sound could be

added, but have not got that far myself.


> * Is there any way to cut, paste and move projects around? I'd like to

> reorganize my top project. It's got too many subprojects within it!

The 'safe' long way round is to write to a project file externally, delete

the project, go to the new 'home' and reload.


The 'quick way' is to drag 'n drop the project icon on the squeak flap on the

left, use the projects... entry in the menu to go to the new place where you

want the project to be, and lift it off the flap / tab on the left into the

main screen area.


> * What is the difference between the 'pick up' and 'move' halos?

Not much, the black 'crane' button allows you to move the object anywhere.

When using the brown button you are restricted to the current container



> * Is there any simple way of image snapshots of different components of the

> screen? I may create some quick reference sheets for Clubhouse members.

> Pictures of Squeak components would be great...

When you save a project a thumbnail .gif snapshot of your project desk is

created automatically.


In case it's not clear, there are different layers or user interfaces

within Squeak. One of these is a system for building "e-toys"--it has

a relatively simple scripting method, with tiles that can be pulled

out, and lets novices get into programming easily. For example, you

can paint a picture, which automatically becomes an object, and then

you can easily create a program to make it do things. Lots of e-toy

projects are already posted, and I think some of these would be good

entry points for teenagers.


Squeak itself is a dialect of Smalltalk, which would also be a

wonderful thing for teenagers to explore. Ths is a powerful

object-oriented language. I don't know if anyone has yet done a

Squeak Smalltalk tutorial.


In addition, the 3-D system called Alice is implemented in Squeak, so

you can use that to make 3-D projects.


And at least one other user interface is under construction.


You'll also find lots of gizmos, tools, and projects hidden away in

menus, and many of these are fun to tinker with.

> * How would you present Squeak to teenagers? How would you describe the

> tool? Is it a programming environment, a multi-media tool, an operating

> system, a make-your-own-game environment, or what?


In the first place: I would not start with Squeak but with their own

interests, finding things they worry about... Motivate them to make a

project of that idea... Then you are in..


Then step 1: Despite the seventies: Most Girls are not boys:


My wife told me about a demo she saw last week: Children were given clay

without instuctions. At the end most girls created things while the tables

of the boys showed only a mess.

Before you make your conclusion: looking at the videotape of the session it

self, you saw that boys where trying things, testing the material, not with

a clear goal but just learning about the possibilities of the material,

maybe for future use, just by acting.

So: Boys want to experiment, do something, build, act.. most girls want to

do something useful, work on a serious theme, sharing their concerns and:



So.. Starting a project asks for a web-site: look at the Swiki concept and

see how it can facilitate projects: put the projectgoal on the webpage,

divide in groups to tackle parts of the problem: some children are

constructors: let them work with eToys, they are motivated to learn Squeak,

others are more in arts, let them create the lay-out and video's on the

website, others are more contemplative: let them fill the textual part of

the website, others are curious: let them surf the www to find resources

related to the problem, make liks on the swikipages, others are born

projectleaders: let them organise the webpage-tree, etc..


(I forget where I saw it(squeakland?) but on university example of a project

was about busstops... boring, not at all if you look better:

Someone did decide that the busstop is on the wrong spot (dark alley), so

how can you make it move. Who does decide about that.

(Deeper lesson: The world is invented by people, knowing more of these

processes can help you to try to change that world..)


> * Do you have examples of activities that I could develop with teenagers?


Children example: how can we get OUR place to hang around after school?

I do whatever interests the kids and I throw in a math or science concept in the process.

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