This book (Part 1 & 2) is for you if you want your child to:
•Practice his creativity and innovation
•Develop interest in mathematics and science
•Build analytical and problem-solving skills
•Nurture a lasting friendship with the computer
In this book, learning programming isn't the ultimate objective; the goal is to apply principles of math and logic, to learn critical thinking, and to unleash individual creativity. The focus is on fun, exploration, and challenging work.
*** Programming as a medium for learning ***:
Programming means tapping into the computer's immense power by talking with it directly. Through programming, children use the computer's terrific power to draw graphics, design animation, solve mathematical or word puzzles, and even build robots.
It is essential to use programming environments like Logo or Scratch that have been specially designed with "learning" in mind. These environments are simple and entertaining, and yet very powerful.
*** How children learn in Logo ***:
Children, who get access to toys that are capable of going beyond their basic “toy” purpose and becoming models for further thinking, are seen to develop better insights into Physics and Math.
The Logo environment is one such powerful and irresistible toy!
The Turtle in Logo is an object that children can easily relate to and utilize (through commands like forward, back, right, and left) to build all sorts of intellectual models. Programming involves manipulating the Turtle.
*** Impressions about writing programs in Logo ***:
•Logo commands are simple and provide immediate response. This makes it easy to increase the pace of communication.
•The Logo environment is clearly exciting and entertaining for children.
•The child becomes an active learner. The computer becomes his source of power. When the child is commanding the Turtle to do this and that, he is in charge of his own learning.
•The Turtle provides access to basic geometry concepts.
•The power of computing creates possibilities: With the knowledge of sequence (step by step), iteration, and creating new words, children take steps in increasing their power. Randomness and recursion create further interesting possibilities.
•Tackling complexity by taking mind-size bites: Children create complex drawings by breaking it down into smaller problems.
•Learning with a sense of purpose: Through the manipulation of the Turtle, geometry suddenly becomes more sensible. Children sense that lines and angles are the basic building blocks of a lot of geometry out there.
•In programming, there is no absolute “right” or “wrong”: it involves incrementally improving a solution through debugging. This positive approach is much more conducive to building confidence.
•Thinking about thinking: To write a program, the child first reflects on his own thinking, and then asks the computer to do it. This knowledge of how our mind works, and the continued habit of analyzing one’s thinking can become great intellectual tools for future problem modeling and solving.
•The “computational” way of thinking becomes an additional tool in the children’s tool chest. It’s a magical discovery that there can be different “styles of problem-solving”.
*** Concluding Remarks ***:
Learning to program the computer is an important step, and it must happen naturally, like learning Spanish by living in Spain. Logo is a language that children love to use, and is easy to learn and powerful.
Logo includes and can be used to create a learning environment – by providing a set of pre-programmed objects, which encompass deep ideas of math and science.
Children pick up concepts of Math or other “difficult” subjects through their exploration on computers. Teachers become facilitators in the learning process – by helping children “debug” their thinking.