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Initiation into the Cult of Logo: TurtleArt, LightLogo, LogoTurtle

Page history last edited by Josh Burker 5 years, 5 months ago




Brian Silverman is part of Playful Invention Company and the inventor of software projects that encourage a constructionist approach to creating knowledge of math, art, and programming. He is an advising member of the Scratch Team and recently collaborated with fellow Montréalers Kids Code Jeunesse to create art:bit, which "makes playing with the micro:bit as simple as a child's flipbook."


Brian is also behind most releases of the Logo programming language extending back to Apple Logo and LCSI Logo. Logo is a programming language that, above all others, teaches you to think about thinking. With Paula Bontá he created TurtleArt, a block-based programming environment specifically to create art. Later, he created LightLogo to encourage us "to get back to text programming." The LogoTurtle was a collaboration with Erik Nauman and me to bring Logo to an Arduino-based robot that encouraged debugging and "mucking around" with mathematics. Below are some brief introductions to each project as well as examples of how the software and hardware have been used and extended in classrooms and workshops.




TurtleArt is a block-based Logo environment stripped down to only the commands useful for creating art. Far from being limiting, this microworld approach focuses the attention on learning to create designs. TurtleArt is free to download by sending an email to contact@turtleart.org and requesting a copy. They are curious who is using it. A beautiful version for the iPad is available for purchase on the iTunes Store.


The TurtleArt website has a number of getting started exercises that will have you and your students quickly programming art. Additionally, the Help available within the application provides an explanation of each block's use as well as an example exploring the block's use.


Beyond programming art, I have led people through the process of transforming TurtleArt designs from bits to atoms, fabricating 3D printed clay stamps to explore TurtleArt in a physical form.




Another avenue to explore might be cutting the designs from paper using a CNC like a Silhouette Cameo or a Cricut.







Brian Silverman maintains that "LightLogo can make interesting patterns emerge with 10 line of code." LightLogo is an alternative Virtual Machine that you run on an Arduino Uno or SparkFun RedBoard connected to a neopixel ring and a Java application to load your programs into the Arduino's memory. LightLogo encourages the programmer to learn to think algorithmically, "learning to express a sequence of things that express over time." You may download LightLogo from Playful Invention Company. Included in the zip archive is a collection of samples as well as a PDF containing the syntax and examples to get you familiarized and programming in LightLogo.


Sixth grade students worked with me to write LightLogo procedures that paired with family narratives they read aloud while the LightLogo ring, housed in a collaged "cigar" box, played the light patterns corresponding with the stories.





A comprehensive primer on getting started programming LightLogo is available.


Additionally, you can download and print a visual planner to help you with your LightLogo designs, like the students pictured above.




LogoTurtle is Brian's port of Logo to an inexpensive floor robot that can be programmed to make art or to navigate independently with the addition of a bump sensor. A project that combines electronics, 3D printing, and text-based programming, students who work with the LogoTurtle show a tendency to work through the "inaccuracy" of the LogoTurtle (the microcontroller is incapable of floating point math) to realize an approximated perfection in their designs.



We have several LogoTurtles available for you to program. Please read the directions on getting the software installed and working on your laptop.

Additional Resources


TurtleArt Cards

Cynthia Solomon's LogoThings

Erik's Nauman's students' LightLogo examples

LogoTurtle Curriculum

The Invent to Learn Guide to Fun and Guide to More Fun

Mindstorms by Seymour Papert

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