Sunday, October 02, 2016

Sharing the LogoTurtle at World Maker Faire

  • A 10 year-old boy who had never programmed in Logo saw the square example and immediately saw how he could modify it to make different shapes and nest that loop in another loop to make the multiple tiled shapes on the left. His dad was floored by what he did so quickly on his own. He left with his family for a while and came back a couple hours later and added to his octagon program to make the shape in the video. Amazing, he had been thinking about it while walking around and wanted to pursue his other ideas about it.

  • Just saw this peripherally but a kind of intense dad got it right away and started programming the LogoTurtle while his son, maybe 11, watched. After it drew a couple lines his son said, "Let me try," and the dad said, "Yeah," and moved back. But as soon as the boy started typing the dad was interrupting, telling him, "No, you use that command, no, put a space there," etc, etc, and I could see the boy's eagerness dampen until he shrunk back and let his dad take over.
  • I had a student helping show people how to use the LogoTurtles and while she didn't build them she had programmed them. She was so good at engaging people at their level to help them get started. Several times she was asked challenging questions by adults about the design of the robot, about the motors, the micro-controller, the coding language. She handled these questions with such confidence, explaining what she could and just matter-of-factly stating she didn't know the details when she wasn't familiar with something. It was great to see her so in charge of her role in the project.
  • Intense engineer hacker type guy immediately asked about the LogoTurtle specs, "What micro-controller are you using? How are you driving the steppers?" etc. Many people asked questions like that, men and women, but this guy had an edge to his tone, with his eyes narrowed and no smile on his face or in his voice, and his arms crossed. There was something unnecessarily confrontational about how he spoke. But after I answered several questions he started to soften, and finished up by nodding and saying, "Wow, this is a really good project, really well designed, yeah, this is great." And walked away satisfied, tough customer.
  • Several women and men who are tech integrators or art teachers talked about how exciting the LogoTurtle would be for their schools. For most of these educators the news that the 3D print files were available to download and print if you have access to a printer and the rest of the hardware is all sourced from vendors was very happy news and they knew just what to do. To see that kind of initial comfort with such a DIY project was great.
  • Several times younger kids laughed when they saw the robot draw the first line or curve they coded.
  • A teenage girl was very excited about the project and talked about getting the parents of her charges, one of whom is on the autism spectrum, to get them some hands-on activities like it because they have no blocks or creative toys in their house. She was taking her advocacy so seriously. Before she left she looked at the students with me and complimented them on their self confidence and knowledge about their projects.
  • Because great minds think alike Josh Burker was giving a talk about the LogoTurtle at the Make:Education tent this weekend. It was really cool for people to be able to see him talking about it and then go right over to our table and try it out. He set a wonderful context for the LogoTurtle project. He illustrated the importance of moving from the precision of screen turtle programming to the inaccuracy and physical constraints of programming the LogoTurtle and the deeper mathematical thinking required of solving bits to atoms problems. He showed some remixes of the LogoTurtle project, illustrating how the design can be adapted and improved to satisfy the needs and interests of the many people using it.
  • And it was great to have Josh come talk to people drawing at my table and give his insights on the value of coding to draw. I had been focusing on the basics with all of the visitors to the table but he put his LogoTurtle down and drew a generative tree design that introduced the use of randomness into the conversation with those around.

  • A father son (16-18 or so) pair came up to the table and immediately zeroed in on the micro-controller. They were familiar with it and discussed other similar boards they had worked with. They entertained the question of adding an XBee module to make it wireless. As they talked about a project the boy had recently done with some micro-controller and an XBee it was fun to watch them talking so much on the same wavelength in their micro-controller thoughts, not like a father pressuring his son to be good at something, but like two guys who were saturated in geekdom almost completing each others' thoughts.

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