Logo meets KidPix : a programming language for children
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
The use of computers has changed as a result of the shift in emphasis from centralised computer systems to the personal computer. Users are no longer dependent on someone else to supply their information needs, as they can retrieve the information themselves. Rather than making programming a redundant skill, this has meant that more people require programming skills, albeit at a lower level. The personal computer can now be found in many homes, but its use is mainly for the playing of games, rather than using it to learn the fundamentals of programming-sequencing, selection, and iteration. In order to get children interested in learning the concepts of programming, a skill that can be used in later life, an environment needs to be created in which not only are these skills learnt, but the user has fun learning them. This thesis introduces sLogo, an icon driven turtle graphics programming environment that incorporates sound and animation to provide an exciting environment in which to program. Within sLogo, direct manipulation is used to insert and delete commands, control execution, and to create procedures and repeat statements. Audio feedback is given on all mouse operations, and turtle movement. Rather than just watching the turtle move across the screen, the user gets to hear it as it zooms along and turns its corners. We describe some of the problems that children have been observed having when using Logo, and some suggested solutions of those problem. We describe various computer environments designed for use by children are examined, such as KidPix, a drawing program that uses audio feedback, and LogoMation, a Logo-like programming language that supports the use of colour, sound, and animation. The design of sLogo is discussed, and the techniques used to correct some of the problems in Logo when used by young children. SLogo was tested by twenty seven 12- and 8-yearold children from a local primary school. Their use of sLogo, and the observations from this testing are recorded.