MicroWorlds Pro
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Excerpt from my Final Document, "Using Emergent Design to Implement Computer-Enabled Learning Environments in K-12 Public Schools"( Copyright 2002 by Carol Caldwell-Edmonds, all rights reserved)

To completely unlock the potential of the computer, students should learn to program in a language shared by humans and machines—a programming language such as LOGO.  Papert designed LOGO from an adult scientist-as-big-child perspective (cited in subsection 2).  After working in Piaget’s center in Geneva for four years, Papert joined the mathematics faculty at MIT, where he began to play with an idea.  He was enthusiastic about working with pioneers in the area of artificial intelligence, Marvin Minsky and Warren McCulloch, and this environment opened new possibilities for him to connect the various focal points of his own learning background.

When I finally arrived, all this came together in all-night sessions around a PDP-1 computer that had been given to Minsky.  It was pure play.  We were finding out what could be done with a computer, and anything interesting was worthwhile.   Nobody yet knew enough to decree that some things were more serious than others.  We were like infants discovering the world.

 

It was in this situation that I thought about computers and children.  I was playing like a child and experiencing a volcanic explosion of creativity.  Why couldn’t the computer give a child the same kind of experience?   Why couldn’t a child play like me?   What would have to be done to make this possible?  (Papert 1993, 33)

 

Papert’s answer was to provide what he calls “microworlds” for children in which they use computers, not only to access information, but also to “tinker around” with programming commands which manipulate an onscreen “turtle” that can move, draw, and react to colors that make up its onscreen environment.   Twenty-five years ago, the LOGO “turtle” was a tethered robot on the floor, then it was a figure on a screen, and now the turtle concept drives the “brain” part of Lego robotics kits that truly bring hands and mind into a constant interactive “tinkering” style of learning.

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