[svlug] using linux in schools

William R Ward bill at wards.net
Mon Mar 31 13:16:31 PST 2003

Bill Kendrick writes:
>On Mon, Mar 31, 2003 at 12:29:06PM -0800, Paul Cubbage wrote:
>> Good deeds are hard to do and have results.  I published user software 
>> at Atari including about 45 educational packages so I know a little. 
>> Some suggestions:
>Heh - It's the old Atari & Apple II days that I've been thinking back to
>when coming up with ideas for new kids' software.  (See my new "Tux Print"
>project:  http://www.newbreedsoftware.com/tuxprint/ )

Ahem!  What about Commodore??  :-)

>> - There is a developmental stage starting at around 16 where global 
>> concepts start working.    Source code of interesting programs including 
>> games are something they'll like.  Packaging it so that the make/compile 
>> is easy is a big help.  Of 16 teenage authors, I had only one under 16. 
>> I don't think you can get younger ones pogramming but anything you give 
>> them that allows them to manipulate the system and get results is a plus 
>> for < 16.
>I admit I'm kind of geeky, but I started programming BASIC on my Atari back
>when I was 7 or 8 years old.  Nothing fabulous, but I got lots of little bits
>of things working.  If not very productive, I was at least having a LOT of
>fun.  And today, a lot of the game-oriented programming skills I was playing
>with are just sitting in my brain, up there with riding a bike, walking, and
>breathing. :^)

I started around age 10, but that's only because I didn't have access
to a computer any earlier than that.  We got a Commodore PET in our
school when I was about 10.

>I've been thinking it would be cool to create a BASIC-like environment,
>much like one got back in the days of the 8-bits, where you didn't have
>  source + compiler = application
>You just had:
>  source + type RUN = application
>  line of source + hit [Enter] = see the results right now

Perl is perfect for this, except that Perl's error messages are so
cryptic.  Using the GNU Readline library in combination with Curses
you could go a long way towards achieving what you're talking about
with a very small amount of Perl code.

It might be good to rewrite the "perldiag" page to better suit your
audience, and then "use diagnostics" to load that in.

>I've thought of creating a simple environment with its own console-like
>display, with BASIC (or similar language) interpreter, and lots of neat
>multimedia-style things built in, much like the Atari 8-bit + Atari BASIC had:
>  sprites
>  sounds
>  graphics routines

.. you could do the graphics using Perl/Tk ...

>I'm sure something like this has been done elsewhere, but I don't think I've
>ever seen anything Open Source.  I'd build it specifically to run for a
>variety of platforms: Linux, Mac, Windows, etc.  (You've gotta love SDL!)

... Perl/Tk programs run just fine under all those platforms without
any changes ...



William R Ward            bill at wards.net          http://www.wards.net/~bill/
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by
 little statesmen and philosophers and divines."        - Emerson

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