Monday, April 2, 2007

Programming and Creativity -- Turtles and Geometry

This year, I teach Microworlds and Logo programming in 6th grade. Logo enables kids to become active designers and learners. In Middle School, programming exercises should require from students to design, implement and present some ‘mini’ programming projects. The learning process should be spiral and organized in gradual stages. Each stage should help a student to foster further understanding of the abstract programming concept. Logo commands and procedures are written in plain language: forward (fd), left (lt), pen down (pd) for drawing, repeat 4 [forward 100 right 90] for a square, and clear graphics (cg) to delete the screen graphics. Even error messages are simple in Logo: “I don't know how to square.”

After reviewing “Turtles and Geometry” activity, I asked my students to produce some interesting designs and patterns by changing variables and coloring geometric shapes with the Paint Can.




In the Tunnel project, a turtle has onClick command “fd 783 lt 983.” The student told me that he just put some random numbers to see what would happen.

Dulsky in his article “Logo Rose Windows” (The Computing Teacher 20 (7), 1993) suggests to shows students a picture of the Gothic Rose Window of the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Paris. Students should detect patterns in the picture and program a turtle to draw a rose window by using three simple geometric shapes. I would like to try this exercise with my students this semester.


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