[Edu-sig] Age groups

Jason L. Asbahr jason@crash.org
Thu, 10 Feb 2000 23:01:19 -0600

At 08:50 PM 2/10/00 -0600, Dustin wrote:
>Now imagine that we allow a student to drag-and-drop 'steps' into a
>'program', then click 'go' to see the program do its thing.  Suddenly they
>can see the effects of their sequencing, and experiment until they get it

Great idea, Dustin!

It sounds a lot like the Lego Mindstorms robotic kit programming
environment -- but a truly visual Python IDE.  A window to the
side could show the actual text of the program that they are
assembling, with correct case usage of course.  ;-)  "Syntax
errors" could be shown in the graphical environment with large
blinking red arrows, and if the IDE is smart enough, it could suggest
alternate orderings or constructions.  There is no reason why
the text window couldn't also be edited, which would affect the
graphical representation as it text was recognized.  Outside
library modules could be imported into the environment, allowing
students to program actually useful -- or at least effective --
software, performing tasks like reading mail from a remote server,
printing out 2D and 3D graphics, or other interesting hands-on 

Anyone remember the BASIC programming cartridge for the Atari 2600?
It came with a unique push button controller with button like "for"
and, of course, "goto".  

Anyway, building such a visual programming environment for Python
seems to me to be an excellent near term goal for the CP4E crowd.
There are R&D aspects to it, no commercial IDE vendor would be likely
address this market, and learners could smoothly transition from visual
representation and manipulation to actual textual programming.  As
long as it is open source, we could start simply, with modest goals, 
and expand the system over time.  Heck, students themselves could 
expand the system as their final project in class.  :-)

Could such a system be added to IDLE?

Jason Asbahr
Origin Systems, Inc.