Bits to Atoms: Logo and Fabrication





Logo is a programming language developed to teach people to think about thinking. Perhaps you remember programming Logo yourself as a student, drawing geometric designs with the turtle. Logo remains a viable, low-floor/high ceiling learning environment for people to explore programming. Logo also provides an interesting basis for personal fabrication projects. Ranging from low-tech to high-tech, these fabrication projects are remixable projects that transform your digital designs into physical artifacts.


Turtle Blocks


Turtle Blocks is a Java implementation of Logo that runs in a web browser. It uses a familiar block-based programming model to create art, program robots, and to explore more advanced computer science concepts.


By snapping the blocks together you can create procedures that cause the turtle to move around the screen and draw a design.




Fabrication 1: T-Shirt Designs


A low barrier of entry project to begin exploring Logo and fabrication is to program designs that you print to use as t-shirt designs. Target makes a surprisingly good iron-on transfer paper.


You should use two "special" blocks when creating designs for t-shirts:




Print the design on the iron-on transfer paper. A smaller design works best if you are using an iron. Befriend a t-shirt shop owner and use his or her heat press for bigger designs.



Fabrication 2: 3D Printing Designs


You can also use Turtle Blocks to create designs that you can then 3D print. 


Again, you need to use a couple of special blocks when creating designs for 3D printing.






You import the SVG file into Tinkercad to extrude and size it.




You can create simple ornaments from the design.




Alternately, you can stack designs to create 3D printed sculptures that would not be possible to print "whole."




Your 3D printed designs can be purely decorative or functional: this design held a USB drive for part of a present packaging.



Fabrication 3: LogoTurtle Designs


The LogoTurtle is a small robot that runs on Logo. It is a robot that you and your students assemble. It is programmed using a text-based version of Logo. The assembly directions are online, and there are also project starter ideas available.



At its simplest, the LogoTurtle's art transforms digital to physical designs. Here is wrapping paper drawn by the LogoTurtle.



However, those designs can be used to fabricate more complex artifacts. Lately I have experimented with creating cardboard wreaths from designs.







Navigate to Turtle Blocks and try programming your own designs.





Transforming your Logo designs from bits on the screen to physical artifacts is surprisingly easy and fun. It is a great way to publicly showcase your maker club's work (imagine your crew wearing t-shirts with their own designs on them) to creating sculpture that your would otherwise be challenged to produce.




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