[squeak-dev] math education project (long post)

Ralph Boland rpboland at gmail.com
Sat Mar 28 17:19:12 UTC 2020

I am developing in Squeak a math/science/computer science education project.
It is not like any other math education software I have seen in that
it breaks down
each step of each mathematical operation into steps that are highly visual in
nature and appealing and interesting as possible to the target age group which
is four to ten year olds.   Currently the project is about 35,000
lines of code but
will get much larger.

I expect version 1)  (Counting, Colors, and Clocks) to be ready late fall and
version 2) (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to be ready
late summer 2021.   These are only estimates and are highly dependent
upon how my current financial crisis unfolds.

I was planning on creating a web site when version 1) is ready.

Issue 1).
I know nothing about creating web sites and want to spend as little time as
possible doing so since I want to spend all of my time on the software.
My users will be children and their parents, tutors, and teachers etc. so
downloading the project needs to be super simple.
It seems to me that the Squeak web site is a good model for what I need.

Is the Squeak web site under some form of open source/documentation
license?  Is basing my web site on it allowable or even advisable?
Would modeling on the Etoys (Squeakland?) web site be better?
Same questions on that website apply.

If I should build my site from scratch (not Scratch :) )  then can/should I
use Seaside.  I know little about how to use Seaside and assume that
I should not base my website on my home computer so I further assume
the answer is that I should use some website hosting company and use
whatever software they provide.  But since I don't really know what I'm
talking about, I could use some basic advice.  Learning/Using Seaside
would be cool though.

Issue 2)
I am currently planning to initially release under GPL 3  mostly because of
clause 5d) which ensures the  license is posted on the running software of
anyone who releases a modification of the software.  The MIT license
only requires that some file contains this license.   I am temped to create
my own license I call   GUI-MIT  which includes clause 5d) of GPL 3 and possibly
some additional clauses that ensure the software contributors and financial
contributors and listed in the running software.  But creating my own license
is a huge kettle of fish (can of worms?).  If you think I am being
very anal here,
keep in mind that my target audience will never find the file containing the MIT
license if the license is not referenced in the running software.
I admit simply releasing my project to Squeak under the MIT license is
very temping and desirable since it is the easiest way to allow squeakers
to contribute or for some group of squeakers for fork my project
(I don't want a fork to occur of course but I cannot prevent it).
I don't have particular questions here but am very interested in the community's

Issue 3)
I really did want to do versions 1) and 2) of my project entirely on my own.
After that I would hope that others would want to make contributions to the
Covid 19 changes that.
My goal is to quadruple the rate at which children learn the subjects taught
with my software.  A laudable goal but what the reality is I admit I don't know.
Assuming my goal is attained, it could be very helpful for kids whose
schools have
closed due to Covid 19.  Another reality is that the whole  Covid 19
matter will likely
be over by the time my software is ready.  Still, it is a motivation
to get my project
completed as soon as possible.
The software requires a number of visualizations/animations to be run with
EACH STEP of each arithmetic operation taught with the software.
These visualizations will take me a long time because I have never done
any kind of visualization/animation in Squeak (or anywhere) before
so it will take a while to learn how to do them.
If there are squeakers interested in writing the code for these
visualizations that
would advance the project considerably.  Alternatively, anyone willing
be flooded
with questions on how to write these visualizations could be a great help.
I am open to be part of a project group for this project if enough people are
interested.  I would be contributor to such a project (with admittedly
an already
large contribution) but would have no special privileges or authority.
If the group took my project in directions contrary to my desires I would be
prepared to fork though.

Can't think of what else to say.   In all likely hood my project will
not be ready
until  Covid 19 has done its worst and then the project will likely only have
a modest impact on early math education.  In a couple of years (or perhaps now)
this post may seem almost humorous.  But if you can provide any advice or help
it would be much appreciated.


Ralph Boland  rpboland at gmail.com

More information about the Squeak-dev mailing list