[ANN] Fun programming with your kids

stéphane ducasse ducasse at iam.unibe.ch
Fri May 27 20:14:13 UTC 2005


If you are a parent, an educator or a programmer having kids this is  
for you! After 4 years of work, my new book "Squeak: Learn  
programming with Robots" will be out soon


With Bots Inc you will learn how to program robots in an interactive  
environment. Bots Inc proposes three teaching approaches: direct  
command of robots, scripting robots and programming robots. The book  
contains 24 chapters going step by step over topics with a lot of  
examples. Bots Inc is fun but it is not a toy, it teaches you 100%  
real programming in Smalltalk: a pure object-oriented programming  
language that has been copied by Java. Bots Inc is built on top of  
the rich open-source multimedia Squeak environment that you can also  

My goal is to explain key elementary programming concepts (such as  
loops, abstraction, composition, and conditionals) to novices of all  
ages. I believe that learning by experimenting and solving problems  
with fun is central to human knowledge acquisition. Therefore, I have  
presented programming concepts through simple but not trivial  
problems such as drawing golden rectangles or simulating animal  
behavior. The ideal reader I have in mind is an individual who wants  
to have fun programming. This person may be a teenager or an adult, a  
schoolteacher, or somebody teaching programming to children in some  
other organization. Such an individual does not have to be fluent in  
programming in any language. As a father of two young boys I also  
wrote this book for all the parents that want to have fun programming  
with their kids in a powerful interactive environment. Programming in  
Smalltalk is an interactive, fun but deep experience.


"I am using the version of the book on your web site to teach my  
oldest daughter Becca some programming. She absolutely loves it. We  
are doing the Bot graphics right. My other kids are showing interest  
as well. My Fall semester schedule leaves me with almost no time free  
but in the Spring I hope to bring Squeak and your book to our  
elementary school's "gifted" program." C. David Shaffer

"I'm using the Bot Lab environment for three years and found it  
really valuable in teaching computer science concepts for a young  
audience (and even less young !). The bots commanded through balloon  
(as in comic strips) is a very nice introduction for young children,  
and when this aspect is well understood, you can use the Bot  
Workspace to teach the notion of script, a first step in programming  
languages. The Micro Browser allows children to add new behavior for  
their bots, and have fun with their creation. This three-layers tool  
- Balloon, Micro Workspace, Micro Browser - offers to the teacher a  
fun way to introduce gently the basis of object-oriented programming  
concepts. With Bots Inc, learning is playing ! ;-)" Samir Saidani -  
University of Caen - France

"I recently started a course with 7th-graders (age about 13 years)  
with Stephane's book --- they love it. They all know about syntactic  
issues from maths --- in a way they know that an expression in a  
formal language must be well formed. So they easily grasp the fact  
such as "there must be a colon after the message-name if an argument  
follows". Of cause they don't really read the error-messages, they  
just see "there must be some error" and they remember the simple  
rules. Don't underestimate Smalltalk --- it's easy understandable  
because it has a simple and straight-forward design." Klaus Fuller -  

Have fun...please distribute


  "if you knew today was your last day on earth, what would you
  do different? ...  especially if,  by doing something different,
  today might not be your last day on earth" Calvin&Hobbes

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