Friday, August 2, 2013

From Logo to Scratch: Where it all began...Logo

Oh, how I love Seymour Papert and constructionist learning.  There's no doubt (at least in my mind) that we learn by doing and creating.  This idea is at the heart of Papert's work and dates back to his work with Piaget in the late 1950's and early 1960's.  I'm a fan of Piaget's constructivist theory as well and think that the two theories coexist when it comes to learning in the 21st century.

In the mid 1960s Seymour Papert, a mathematician who had been working with Piaget in Geneva, came to the United States where he co-founded the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory with Marvin Minsky. Papert worked with the team from Bolt, Beranek and Newman, led by Wallace Feurzeig, that created the first version of Logo in 1967. (from the Logo Foundation website)
You can read more about the history of logo on the website as it is quite fascinating and is largely responsible for the push toward teaching coding in school.  Have you ever used Logo?  I have very fond memories of teaching our 6th graders to code with MSW Logo. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Logo is famous for the 'turtle' that you program to essentially draw on the screen.  It gets more complicated as you can incorporate programming constructs like user loops, input, variables, conditional statements, etc. Essentially, you are coding the turtle with commands like fd 100 (to move forward 100 units), right or rt 30 (to turn 30 degrees to the right), etc.  You can create subroutines in order to call upon code snippets within your program. as well.  Great language if you haven't tried it!

In the example above (from 14sia - Robotics), you can see a loop was created to tell the turtle to move forward 100 units and turn right 60 degrees, resulting in this lovely hexagon.
The culminating project that we had our students complete was to build a house using Logo.  They were required to create subroutines for certain parts of the house and ultimately write a program that ran all of the subroutines resulting in their house (oftentimes complete with landscaping, a car in the driveway, a playset out back, etc.).  I highly recommend the use of Logo to introduce young students (grades 2 - 7) to coding.  

Logo was the start and there were many spinoffs of turtle logo, but the concept continued to evolve further as you will see as I explore a variety of tools rooted in Logo.

For now, however, here are a number of versions of Logo for your exploration.