[Edu-sig] CP4E in a third world country

Miguel Turner dhagrow at gmail.com
Wed Oct 8 23:27:37 CEST 2008

Thanks to everyone for the support. I hope no one minds if I write a general

Winston Wolff wrote:
> We teach computer programming with Python at Stratolab, but I like to
start with Scratch first.

I've looked at Scratch, but I haven't yet had a chance to try it out. My
plan is to start with high school kids, and depending on how well that goes
and how much time I have, I will try to work my way down to younger kids. As
I do I may be more inclined to try things like Scratch, but, to start at
least, I want to avoid giving the impression that I am just teaching them
how to use a toy or play a game. Not that those things aren't important. In
the broader scope of the class I do want to introduce games, including board
and card games. The only games kids here play are action games on gaming
consoles, and soccer.

Daniel Ajoy wrote:
> There are Logos in Spanish, for example FMSLogo (which is free)

Gregor Lingl wrote:
> Python 2.6, which was released one week ago, comes with a new turtle

I have a soft spot for Logo. It's how I fell in love with programming in 5th
grade. I have been following Python development, so I was aware of the new
turtle module, though I hadn't seen the demos. It's amazing what you can do
with so little code, and the GUI for the demo browser is something along the
lines of what I'd want in an IDE for the students. I can certainly see using
it once the students have a firm grounding in the basics. I think that would
be preferable to a seperate version of Logo, so that I'm not forcing my
students to switch environments.

Winston Wolff wrote:
> For the kids who move to Python, graphics are a great way to go--it
provides a lot of positive feedback.  PyGame is rather low level.  I use my
own MoonUnit wrapper around PyGame ( http://stratolab.com/misc/makebot ),
but LiveWires is similar.

I do intend to introduce graphics as early as possible. I've used Pygame
before. In fact, I once wrote a minimal GUI framework in SDL, which is the
library Pygame is based on. I also like what the Pyglet developers are
doing. I'm inclined to start with the turtle module, though, if only because
it's functions relate easily to drawing with a pencil. I have seen MakeBot
and LiveWires before. I wanted to try MakeBot last night, but ran into an
error (see postscript).

Vern Ceder wrote:
> My advice teaching-wise would be to go slow with the initial concepts. To
someone who has never coded at all variables, lists, loops, etc are somewhat
alien concepts, while once you know how to program, the same concepts seem

That's the plan. Patience, persistence, and a little creativity. At one
point I tried a very simple exercise in Guido van Robot with 3 high school
kids, and was surprised to find that they were struggling with the idea that
the robot followed the instructions sequentially. So, my expectations have
been tempered a bit.

Andrew Harrington wrote:
> Look at the data on the Sugar installations for thousands of kids in
Peru.  The Sugar environment is certainly localized for Spanish and takes
little resources.

For some reason I skipped over the thought that Sugar would run on other
machines, even though I know it's based on Fedora. But there's so much more
to XO than Sugar. Would you say that even on it's own Sugar offers
significant advantages over, say, Edubuntu? And if so, would that be true
for older kids? Regardless, I will try to grab a copy, though bandwidth is a
luxury here.

Charles Cossé wrote:
> Actually, there you might be interested in TuxWordSmith which is almost
Scrabble and plays in many language combos, including Spanish/English and

I will take a look, thanks. As for supplies, there are always things lacking
in a place like this, as I'm sure you know. For the class, at least, I think
I can manage with what's available.

Thanks again for all your responses,
Miguel Turner

P.S. -- MakeBot error
This was right after installing to the default location:

MakeBot 2008-10-07 22:42:06 INFO Checking folder "C:\Program
Files\Stratolab\MakeBot-1.4\Builders" for builder files. (core.builders)
MakeBot 2008-10-07 22:42:06 DEBUG details=[Errno 2] The system cannot find
the file specified (core.builders)
MakeBot 2008-10-07 22:42:06 ERROR Error in MakeBot: Here is the stacktrace:
  File "main.py", line 360, in ?
  File "wx\_core.pyc", line 7749, in __init__
  File "wx\_core.pyc", line 7346, in _BootstrapApp
  File "main.py", line 139, in OnInit
  File "main.py", line 168, in init_windows
  File "main.py", line 275, in new_document
  File "wxgui\mbdocument.pyc", line 281, in __init__
  File "core\builders.pyc", line 219, in find_builders
  File "core\builders.pyc", line 111, in __init__

exceptions.IndexError: list index out of range (__main__)
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