Introducing children and/or school to Squeak

Alan Kay Alan.Kay at
Thu May 10 03:31:09 PDT 2001

Cathleen --

This is why this summer I'd like to collaboratively have us generate 
a sample curriculum for 4th through 6th (or possibly even through 
8th) grade.

The way I have this in my imagination is to think of the deep 
knowledge ahead and to try to build the deep intuitions that are 
needed to understand that knowledge when it is encountered.
      So, to me, I would like to have "math" be "real math", and (a) 
have the emphasis be on learning how to do mathematical reasoning on 
the one hand, and (b) for the kids to learn vectors and geometry as 
the main ways they have to think about numbers and arithmetic, and 
for them to learn how to use differential (tiny little) vectors that 
can be pasted together to make complex mathematical structures of 
many kinds.
      Similarly, I'd like to have "science" be "real science", and to 
(a) have the emphasis be on learning the scientific ways to look at 
the world and also the limitations of trying to "know" that world, 
and (b) for them to make real contact with some of the deep 
scientific ideas that can be made completely understandable to them 
at various ages.

So my first pop at any curriculum design is always to think about 
these ideas and how they might be taught using the best pedagogy and 
most fruitful materials. The computer is just one of these, and it is 
best used for the parts of a curriculum where it is quite superior to 
physical media. We have a friend at the Exploratorium (Modesto Temez) 
who is a positive genius in organizing science learning just using 
easily obtainable junk in the outside world. This is where science 
learning has to start. The computer can be useful in motivating and 
being the instrument of the "mathematical music of science".

I will try to put out sketches of curriculum ideas for math and 
science on the squeakland list over the next few weeks to stimulate 

A sketch at the computer part of the curriculum can be done by just 
organizing the etoys as "starters" that have progressions to more 
complex versions. For example, it's a good idea to do uniform motion 
before doing accellerated motion (and this obtains for all the 
different motions: in space, though images, audio samples, etc.).
      In the accellerated motion examples we have experimented with, 
the progression seems to be: model the dropping of a water balloon, 
then model shooting it (shoot the alien), then do the Lunar Lander 
game, then do the roller coaster. Then do Spacewar. Then do orbits of 
planets and spaceships. A progression like this might extend over 
more than one year of school, etc.

I think the tricky part of doing a math and science curriculum in 
elementary school that really looks ahead to the "deep content" of 
both these areas, is the amount and kind of teacher coaching that 
needs to be done to help elementary school teachers who may not have 
concentrated on math or science (in my experience, most have not).



At 8:41 AM -0700 5/10/01, Cathleen Galas wrote:
>	Thank you for the offer to share your developments.  I would 
>love to see the tutorials that you developed for BJ's class.  I've 
>just had the opportunity to have students work with the drive a car, 
>but they don't see the possibilities for Squeak and I need tutorials 
>desperately.  I also would love to see what you've developed in 
>mathematics, as I do teach math and science in sixth grade.  I am 
>interested in looking at curriculum that teaches broad concepts, as 
>your programs seem to emphasize.  I have been using various 
>iterations of Logo for over 10 years in my classes for design 
>projects that look in depth at broad concepts and students questions 
>in math and science. Any links or projects that you could share 
>would be greatly appreciated.
>>Hi everyone,
>>What I did was first develop a set of tutorials to introduce the novice to
>>the mechanics of the user interface of Squeak.  I had to ask myself, "What
>>are the most important tools that the novice will need to get started
>>without being overloaded with too much extraneous information?"  Once the
>>novice has the basic mechanics down (and there are only 3 of them to really
>>get started), they are able to start delving into Squeak in a very
>>exploratory and creative mode.  After these tutorials were developed and
>>tested with BJ's class, the students were able to create a variety of
>>Next, I wanted to use Squeak to demonstrate some deep mathematical concepts.
>>It is amazing what you can do with Squeak that cannot be done in some high
>>sophisticated mathematical programs like Mathematica, Matlab, or Maple.  I
>>developed a set of projects geared toward the student who had already
>>learned the basic mechanics of the user interface of Squeak.  They were very
>>exploratory and mathematical in nature - based on concepts such as
>>parametric equations, cycloids, gravity, tangent lines, curvature of a
>>circle, etc..
>>I have used these projects with 9th and 10th graders this past school year
>>and they could easily used with 8th graders or tailored for younger
>>students.  I have been so busy this year working with the students on
>>Squeak, getting their Squeak lessons on the school server, and documenting
>>what they have done, that I don't have the links ready yet.  But I do have
>>the projects if anyone would be interested in trying them out. Squeak has
>>worked wonderfully in this NSF funded project.
>>With my best,
>>>  ----------
>>>  From:	Alejandro F. Reimondo
>>>  Reply To:	squeakland at
>>>  Sent:	Thursday, May 10, 2001 6:32 AM
>>>  To:	'squeakland at'
>>>  Subject:	RE: Introducing children and/or school to Squeak
>>>  Hi,
>>>  I have a similar oportunity to use squeak with children
>>>   in an experimental short course (4 days x 4 hours x ~12 children)
>>>   at Buenos Aires, Argentina.
>>>  I will be very pleased if you can share experiencies (or links)
>>>   teaching smalltalk concepts to children of ~12->15 years old.
>>>  thanks in advance,
>>>  Ale.
>>>  ----------
>>>  De:	Mark A. Schwenk[SMTP:mas at]
>>>  Responder a:	squeakland at
>>>  Enviado el:	Jueves 10 de Mayo de 2001 00:49
>>>  Para:	Origbj at; squeakland at
>>>  Asunto:	Re: Introducing children and/or school to Squeak
>>>  B.J.,
>>>  I'd also like to hear more details of your lessons, as well as any
>>>  Squeak-centric preparatory work.
>>>  I talked with the Youth Services Director at our local library this
>>>  evening
>>>  about teaching a free course at the library. We are now planning to offer
>>>  a
>>>  Squeaking With Your Computer workshop consisting of two two-hour sessions.
>>>  The sessions would be spread across two consecutive Saturdays in July and
>>>  would be offered to six student-parent pairs. The students would be fourth
>>>  and fifth graders. Although initially we considered twelve students, the
>>>  Director thought that many parents would be interested and would like to
>>>  participate. What do others think? Perhaps later we could hold separate
>>>  workshops for parents and teachers in addition to the young student
>>>  classes.
>>>  As we gain more experience with this, I think Squeaking classes could
>>>  become a regular offering at our library. The library staff members I have
>>>  spoken with feel quite comfortable with the notion that Squeak could be an
>>>  essential part of the new literacy, and thus part of their mission.
>>>  Then we can expand into the local schools...
>>>  I had previously worked with one local high-school senior who served an
>>>  internship at WellThot to create a Squeak test suite (which inspired some
>>>  of Richard Harmon's work on Smalltalk test suites that grew into the Camp
>>>  Smalltalk ANSI test suites, now included with the Squeak World Tour
>>>  image).
>>>  Before long we may grow a local community of Squeakers!
>>>  -Mark Schwenk
>>>    WellThot Inc.
>>>  At 5/9/2001 10:17 AM, James Howe wrote:
>>>  >At 10:27 PM 5/8/2001 -0400, you wrote:
>>>  >>Hi:
>>>  >>
>>>  >>     I am a teacher at a charter school and have been using Squeak in my
>>>  >>classroom for 2 years.  I have tied my lessons into the standards and
>>>  would
>>>  >>be happy to share what I have done with my students.
>>  > >>
>>>  >>B.J.Conn
>>>  >>Open Charter School
>>>  >
>>>  >
>>>  >I would be interested in anything you have to share about what you did
>>>  >with your students.  I'm particularly interested in how you got your
>>>  >students started using Squeak in the first place.  What sort of basics
>>>  >were needed to be taught before the students could start on projects?  I
>>>  >would also be interested in hearing about some of the projects you had
>>>  >your students work on.  I've seen a couple on Squeakland, but I would be
>>>  >interested in knowing about others.
>>>  >
>>>  >Thanks.
>>>  >
>>>  >
>>>  >James W. Howe                   mailto:jwh at
>>>  >Allen Creek Software, Inc.              pgpkey:
>>>  >Ann Arbor, MI 48103
>Cathleen Galas
>University Elementary School
>Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
>University of California, Los Angeles

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