Hello World (re: Ubuntu Sugarteam)

David Farning dfarning at sugarlabs.org
Wed Jan 27 02:41:17 GMT 2010

On Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 3:20 PM, Makho Mashoba <mmashoba at gmail.com> wrote:
> Thank you for these resources, Caroline.  It's very helpful to know
> what has been done thus far.  The OLPC community has made great
> inroads into teaching children these great skills.
> I do have some suggestions, though.  My first thought is that the
> eToys and Scratch programs appear to be sandbox-type environments.
> That is, they let the kids play creatively with programming.
> Unfortunately, I do not feel that the expression of creativity is by
> itself enough motivation to get children to want to program.  If I
> were 6, and I wanted to be creative, it would be easier to just paint
> a picture or write a story with my hands.  Trying it out with a
> computer might be an entertaining exercise - at first.  Chances are
> I'd rather show physical work to my mom, who could praise my originals
> just the same.
> Which brings me back to my original goal - getting children to program
> so that they can earn a living for their families.  Now, some may
> disagree with the child-labor implications of the idea, but
> programming work is relatively ergonomic, is very self-directed, and
> can be immensely rewarding: especially when you invest your energy.
> I recommend other means of motivating children to program beyond
> creative exploration.  And I don't mean taking away their
> self-motivation.  I believe children are able to dream up their own
> projects, so that the motivation stays rewarding and doesn't become a
> chore.  Everyone would benefit if their ideas could serve an economic
> purpose, though.  Imagine, a sustainable and comfortable income
> available to people the world over.
> One method of motivation would be to get them to meet their own needs
> through programming.  A concrete example: sponsor a prize to the first
> team of 5th graders in Uruguay to design a website marketing to
> developed nations the benefits of their all-natural agricultural
> products.  The prize could be cash, or maybe even an XO for a
> grandparent or other family member.
> Another example: some sort of scholarship for Peruvians rewarding the
> "most practical program award" to that student.  The scholarship could
> be good for the purchase of books at University, as an idea.
> A simple way to reward these children at zero cost would be to
> convince a few programmers to review the children's programs and
> praise them for clever code, with recommendations for improvements.
> I may be missing something here.  I often don't think things all the
> way through.  But I am willing to do a lot of legwork.  So please
> criticize.

Nope, I think have hit a critical point.  Now abstract it one degree.
The goal is for students to learn critical thinking though programming
and exploring, add recognition of achievement as a motivator, add in
the notion of mentor to provide guidance through reviews and

You have basically described how the students in Jeff's class are
learning with Sugar under Jeff and Aurng guidance.  So far, I have
worked with two classes, a senior seminar at Rochester Institute of
Technology, and now Jeffs' class.  The most inspiring is how several
of the students at who have taken the RIT class have gone on to do
sugar related co-ops and TA future classes.  The recursive nature of
learning is powerful and inspiring.

I have specifically targeted high school and universities who want to
learn with Sugar.  a) I worry that Sugar is not stable enough to use
in lower grades. (the xo1.5 are getting pretty good) and b) because
students are often creating learning tools while learning, there often
seems to be a whimsical and enjoyable tone to them.

> - Makho
> On Mon, Jan 25, 2010 at 11:40 AM, Caroline Meeks <caroline at meekshome.com> wrote:
>> Hi Makho,
>> Very nice to meet you!  I do think you have valuable skills to help us.
>> There are so many ways to get started.  One thing I might suggest is looking
>> at the "teach kids to program" resources available for eToys and Scratch.
>> These seem to be the main ways young kids get started with programming via
>> Sugar.  They are also powerful story telling tools.
>> Also have you seen Using the XO in the
>> Classroom: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Sdenka_Salas_-_The_XO_Laptop_in_the_Classroom
>> Perhaps from there you can see what resources are needed to make Sugar an
>> even better platform for kids learning the powerful 21st Century skill of
>> making technology do what you want it to.  Or maybe you can run a Sugar on a
>> Stick dropin programming class at a local library?
>> Tell me more about what strikes your fancy and I'll probably have more
>> suggestions.
>> Cheers,
>> Caroline
>> On Sat, Jan 23, 2010 at 1:06 PM, Makho Mashoba <mmashoba at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> I'm Makho.  I heard about the team through Jeff Elkner, volunteering
>>> during a couple python classes.  I don't know how to program, and I
>>> don't know much about Linux or Sugar (though I do use Xubuntu on one
>>> of my old computers).  I have free time, and I'd like to be
>>> productive.
>>> That's partially why I'm hoping to get involved and help the Ubuntu
>>> Sugarteam.  Ultimately, I want to design and build online interactive
>>> tutorials that teach kids in developing nations to program.  Hopefully
>>> it would help them earn an income for their families.  Every journey
>>> begins with a single step, so I want to learn the ropes of the open
>>> source community and open learning first.
>>> The skills I bring: I have a BA in Psychology from Yale, with
>>> coursework in Educational Psychology.  I'm a decent writer, a great
>>> researcher, and sometimes inspiration strikes me with a good idea.
>>> More often passion strikes me with a vague and impractical aspiration.
>>>  I speak a little Spanish, and I lived in France for a year in high
>>> school.
>>> I look forward to helping.
>>> Thanks,
>>> Makho Mashoba
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>> --
>> Caroline Meeks
>> Solution Grove
>> Caroline at SolutionGrove.com
>> 617-500-3488 - Office
>> 505-213-3268 - Fax
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