The Design and Evolution of TurboTurtle, a Collaborative Microworld for Exploring Newtonian Physics
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
TurboTurtle is a dynamic multi-user microworld for the exploration of Newtonian physics. With TurboTurtle, students can alter the attributes of the simulation environment, such as gravity, friction, and presence or absence of walls. Students explore the microworld by manipulating a variety of parameters, and learn concepts by studying the behaviours and interactions that occur.
TurboTurtle has evolved into a ``group--aware'' system where several students, each on their own computer, can simultaneous control the microworld and gesture around the shared display. TurboTurtle's design rationale includes concepts such as equal opportunity controls, simulation timing, concrete versus abstract controls, recoverability, and how strictly views should be shared between students.
Teachers can also add structure to the group's activities by setting the simulation environment to an interesting state, which includes a set of problems and questions. Observations of pairs of young children using TurboTurtle highlight extremes in collaboration styles, from conflict to smooth interaction. Finally, the technical work in making TurboTurtle group-aware is slight, primarily because it was built with a groupware toolkit called GroupKit.