TurtleArt: When the arts and programming merge happily!

RemixEd / EdCamp Montreal 2017 notably allowed to meet Artemis Papert and Brian Silverman, in addition to discovering the TurtleArt software.

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RemixEd / EdCamp Montreal 2017 notably allowed to meet Artemis Papert and Brian Silverman, in addition to discovering the TurtleArt software.

September 30 was held the day RemixEd / EdCamp Montreal 2017, a bilingual non-conference. At the opening, Artemis Papert and Brian Silverman shared their conception of education through a bilingual presentation.

The characters Artemis and Brian are what teachers dream of when they seek to develop the skills of the 21st.e century among their students. They have indeed been able to develop several facets of their respective personalities.

Artemis Papert is the artist in residence at the Playful Invention Company of Montreal and a shiatsu massage therapist. His interest in alternative medicine dates from his studies in biology in Switzerland. She is a trained microbiologist. As an educator, she particularly uses the software TurtleArt, a creation of Paula Bontá and Brian Silverman, which explores the relationship between art and algorithms. For her, programming is her brush. The program generates the product, but the artist makes the artistic decisions, she says.

Brian Silverman is a native Montrealer who studied at MIT in the 1970s where he participated among other things in the invention of learning environments for children. His work includes dozens of versions of Logo (including LogoWriter and MicroWorlds), Scratch, Robotics LEGO, TurtleArt, and the PicoCricket. Brian is a consultant researcher at MIT Media Lab and has recreational math as a hobby. He is a computer scientist and loves to tweak. He also invented several well-known rules, including Brian's Brain in the particular field of cellular automata.

In short, extraordinary characters. Pioneers in the introduction of young people to technology They belong to the constructionist tradition of Seymour Papert, who died in July 2016, a being of remarkable intelligence for his scope and creativity, who left his mark in three distinct fields:

  • the study of how children approach the world in which they live;
  • the development of artificial intelligence;
  • the impact of digital technologies on learning.

Regardless of their age, children and adults alike should use their intelligence in the learning process. Students should be able to work on projects that offer a wide range of experiences from open-ended questions. Current education systems require specifying the projects students work on, defining what they need to learn and also being able to measure the results of this work through evaluations.

Learning is not a staircase that you climb: “Learning does not happen at the next level of the next game,” says Brian. You rarely get it right the first time. More than once you have to put your work back on the job and correct an error here, another there. An approach which, unfortunately, is far from being accepted in the serious adult world where efficiency consists of succeeding the first time, every time.


Art and programming with TurtleArt

TurtleArt is software that allows you to do activities where a graphic turtle instantly draws the images created from visual programming blocks. It was presented during this RemixEd day and really captured the attention of people there.

Students learn to follow a series of instructions that will allow the virtual turtle to draw. First, they learn to predict what the turtle's behavior will be based on the instructions. They understand the concept of programming. Then, they will learn to organize instructions efficiently and develop increasingly creative projects.

TurtleArt's programming language is simple and easy to use. It gives students access to mathematical reasoning, problem solving, calculus, measurement, geometry and programming to create beautiful pictures.

To explore the software, we can use this educational guide in English for third cycle primary school pupils.



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About the Author

Ninon Louise Lepage
Ninon Louise Lepage
Ninon Louise LePage is a pedagogue and museologist who recently came out of premature retirement to be reborn as an educational designation. She has taught at the Université du Québec à Montréal and the Université de Sherbrooke in science education, in addition to working at the Canadian Heritage Information Network as a museology consultant. She also writes for our French friends at Ludomag. She also invites all interested to contact her so that she can talk about you, your students, your school and your particular experiences in digital and computer education.

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