[Squeakland] Can EToys Teach Me How to Program in Squeak?

Offray Vladimir Luna Cárdenas offray.luna at javeriana.edu.co
Fri Jul 7 07:03:52 PDT 2006

Hi Gregory,

I have used Squeak for teaching introductory programming to university 
students in a open course in the Science Faculty in the Javeriana 
University. In this course we work with  students of different semesters 
and disciplines and Squeak was a nice solution to the problems that we 
face in the transition for a close course for only Informatics 
("computer science") students to an open one. Previously we have tried 
Scheme and Python with good results, but in a more open environment like 
this one, squeak works better for us.

This was the route we following (most of the students has no prior 
programming experience or vocabulary).

* We start with some context and background information about Squeak 
history. In my own experience, knowing the history, the "whys", lets you 
know more motivated about the language itself and its "what for"s

* We continue with the World metaphor, just seing quickly how this works.

* Then we create a presentation over any theme the students choose using 
the bookmorph. That was nice because in established "continuity"  
between the rest of the world and the classroom. Students could see how 
Squeak could help them with the activities they are already doing with 
computers in some different way, giving them added value at the same 
time we some concepts about aggregation, inheritance and encapsulation 
in this activity, in that way we're not having and split between 
concepts and their everyday application. Some of the students start to 
use Squeak to make living presentations in other classes with pretty 
good results (their teachers only knew Power Point, so that 
presentations of my students were visually appealing over the ones of 
their  classmates and even their teachers).

* After that we start with small scripts which just change the behavior 
of few object and they start to enjoy "Drag & Drop Programming" in 
squeak, they understand the basic concepts, can use them, but they're 
not afraid of the code.

* Then we go for a more difficult task reproducing their first Etoy, 
with the game of addings, again the idea is to see what others create 
with squeak and then they make their own Etoy. In this, they start to 
see how the code works behind scenes and we start with grammar and 
syntax of Squeak, starting to show how elegantly smalltalk implements 
the ideas of OOP with its easy to understand syntax and the idea of 
Object + Messages.

Because this was a preliminary experience, finding the path takes time 
and that's where we come this time, in the next semester I hope to see 
some active essays also and more syntax.

As you see, we're working at the same time with concepts and 
programming, correlated one with other, in a progressive way and squeak 
is a so rich environment that you can choose the path you like, even 
with no prior knowledge or vocabulary. Finding your way could take you 
time, but the nice thing about community is that we're here to share 
experience, making, maybe, things easier for you.

Some documentation about the experience, including readings and 
activities can be found here (is in spanish, but hey, we, the spanish 
speakers, are reading english centered documentation almost all the 
time, so is time to produce local language docs):


I hope that helps,


Greg Smith escribió:
> Gentlefolk:
> I am entering the field of programming having no prior experience.   
> I'm not a kid, age-wise, anyway.  It seems every programming language  
> I have encountered makes assumptions about my prior knowledge, (that  
> I have some), and the teachers of these languages use strange and  
> alien terminology to describe actions that I am already unfamiliar  
> with.  The teachers, (online tutorial writers), use terminology that  
> is familiar to themselves to explain new concepts, but is unfamiliar  
> and vague to me.
> For these reasons I am looking toward using the EToys, children's  
> software, as a means to obtain a total introduction to programming,  
> in general, and to Squeak, specifically.  Is this the self-education  
> route I should take, or is there a better "adult" pathway for learning?
> I actually wish that EToys was introduced and structured so that it  
> specifically was aimed at teaching me to program rather than to teach  
> me Mathematics and Science.  But maybe it will do both.
> Please let me know,
> Greg Smith
> _______________________________________________
> Squeakland mailing list
> Squeakland at squeakland.org
> http://squeakland.org/mailman/listinfo/squeakland


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