A well known Logo project is to collaboratively build a quilt out of individual patches.
This project models constructivist learning in person or remotely. People can work on a patch on their own, but still be part of a larger construction by assembling patches into a digital quilt.
In the 1960s, Seymour Papert, Cynthia Solomon, Wally Feurzeig and others invented Logo, the first programming language for children. The “big idea” was to not just give computers to children, but as a way for children to grapple with deep mathematical ideas.
By giving directions to a friendly turtle, the turtle moves and draws. The original turtles of the 1960s were floor robots with a pen attached. As computer graphics became more sophisticated, the turtle took its place on the screen and “turtle graphics” was born.
Modern block-based incarnations of Logo like Scratch and Turtle Art are very popular, and there are directions provided below for Turtle Art and Lynx. Lynx is from LCSI, a company Seymour Papert co-founded. Both run in the browser, and Lynx is text-based, like earlier versions of Logo.
As the popularity of Logo grew in the 1980s, some educators who were early adopters became evangelists. Perhaps the most famous were Dan and Molly Lynn-Watt who wrote fun and accessible books and articles to teach teachers about Logo.
They shared the idea of making a quilt using Logo in an article in the magazine The Logo Exchange, in May 1986.
- “The full power of Logo includes:
- The ability to use top down planning in designing a project
- The flexible use of procedures, subprocedures, and variables
- Clear naming schemes that make complex procedures easier to read
- The use of tool procedures
- The use of modular, state-transparent procedures
Many Logo students do not reach· this level of command over the language, however. We have observed that, as long as Logo learners (adults as well as children) work on individual projects, they tend to solve problems in personal, idiosyncratic ways, and avoid learning these powerful techniques. In our experience, people do not learn to use these ideas until see a clear need for them.
One way to create such a need is to involve several students in creating a collaborative project, in which each one does a part of the programming, working towards a combined result.”
To quilt is to collaborate
“One of our favorite collaborative projects is the design of a Logo quilt. We ask each student to contribute an existing turtle graphics design. Students who put a quilt together must solve a number of problems that lead them to use powerful programming ideas.”
Dan and Molly describe valuable aspects of this project, including:
- “Group agreement on naming procedures
- Understanding the computer science concept of “state transparency” – The turtle must begin and end at the same position and heading, or else the next person’s procedure will not draw correctly.
- Everyone can contribute at their level of expertise. The designs can be simple or complex. Programming techniques are shared and can be appreciated.
- Some programmers may find they need to use variables to adjust the sizes of their drawings.”
Cooperative quilt instructions in Lynx and Turtle Art by Gary Stager
- Start coding in web-based Turtle Art
- Start coding in Lynx
- Learn more about why software like Turtle Art and Lynx are terrific ways to learn coding in our book – Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom.