[Tutor] Programming Ideas, need some focus

James Newton jnewton at fuelindustries.com
Wed Jan 16 17:19:08 CET 2008

Eric Abrahamsen wrote
> I spent some time this afternoon googling the One Laptop Per Child
> (OLPC) project (the GUI is done with Python and PyGTK), to see if 
> there were any collaborative open-source projects I could contribute 
> to. Seems like a perfect opportunity to get a little more Python 
> experience and actually do something useful. I found lots of noble 
> exhortations to help, but very little in the way of specifics. Does 
> anyone know of any ongoing projects that could use volunteers? Of the 
> middling-capable range?

Hi Eric,

I've got a project that I could use help on :-)

I'm a long-time game developer, but a newbie to Python.  I'm currently
working on a Snakes and Ladders game, as I see this as a good way for
young children to learn:

* Putting numbers in the right order
* Associating a value with the name of a number
* fFamiliarity with written numbers
* Taking turns
* ... and a whole range of concepts associated with numeracy.

You can find my latest build at:

Things that need to be done:

* Distribute counters evenly if there are more than one on
  the same square
* Set up a multi-user environment, so that players can join
  a game hosted on a different machine
* Provide a system for selecting the voice-over language
  and other preferences
* Tweak the game play
* Ensure that the activity is as miserly with CPU-time and
  disk space as possible
* ...

Nice to have:
* Allow users to select their own graphics (created in a
  different activity) for the background, dice and counters
* Add an arrow or a pointing finger to indicate which
  square to click on next
* Advanced mode using:
  - two dice
  - drag and drop to move the counter to its final square
* Choice of writing system for the numbers
* ...

I've just received a couple of XO machines from the Give One Get One
initiative, and am currently looking into getting the game to run on the

I have a number of other game ideas that I want to bring to the XO:

* Matching images (more flexible than the built-in Memorize game)
* Drawing Letters
* Abacus Shapes
* Black boxes (a game to develop mental imagery)
* Picture Book Reader

I also have plans for an activity that helps children to understand
musical notation, without having to learn the theory or the practice
first.  But that is currently way out of my depth, as far as my Python
abilities are concerned. 

I'm based in Ottawa, Canada.

Do Snakes and Ladders (or any of the other ideas) inspire you?


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