Event Programming in Logo

The following speech was delivered by Seymour Papert by video to an audience of Costa Rican educators.

Well, you saw this project of the flowers, the game. Now I want to talk about another game project where inside this game project there are some very important ideas of mathematics and of physics. Now you might think physics is not something that you usually do in your elementary schools, but you could. And we're talking about how the computer can enable children at a young age to learn ideas that usually they only meet at a much older age. So I am going to show you a program that I wrote here, which is another game -- and, watch this, you see I made a little figure move along, and that's a usual kind of Logo animation, you all know that. He'll run along, and when he gets onto that that black area, whoa, he falls down.

How can we make him not fall down? Well, he's going to ... I wrote a procedure … when you press a certain key, he jumps. Watch that. Up he went, and down he came, but he didn't jump far enough. Well, how can we be sure? We can do some experiments to find the right place for him to jump. But I found that because I couldn't remember, I put in these trees, and the second tree there, that marks the good place to jump. If you jump there, when he gets to the second tree, he's going to get over. Now there, he got away.

What I really wanted to talk about was, How do you make it jump? Making a jump is a very interesting thing to study because jumping is just an ordinary thing that everybody does all the time, and we never look at it, we never think about what goes into jumping. But if you are making this game, a good teacher would encourage the students to think about, What kind of jump do you want to make? And, in fact, many students won't wait for the teacher, they will worry themselves about, How do you make a jump? Well, let me show you the ways I used to make a jump before I got it right.

Ah, and if we look at . . . I'm going to get a different page here … now I just had that turtle walking. I made two kinds of jumps, I did the -- scan down -- here's one kind of jump . . . it just goes up, stays up for a while, and comes down: that's a square jump. Now, here's another jump, and that's your familiar turtle circle like you've done a lot of times. It did forward a little bit, right a little bit, forward a little bit, right a little bit. Adalante, dereche, adalante, dereche … and that makes a circle. So, that's another way to make a jump.

Now in my game it didn't do it like that. It did it in a more interesting way by doing something more like the way that people really jump. They jump up and gravity pulls them down, so it's not programmed in advance to go in a certain path, but there is a process going on, and I think that this process you'll understand better when Michael tells you about it standing in front of you with a blackboard and trying out different ways of combining the commands together.

And I'm going to leave you there. I'm going to leave you thinking for today about how you use these new commands, this new kind of programming, what kind of projects you can develop, and how they might lead you to look at ordinary things like bees flying on flowers, or walking, or jumping, or throwing, or all the ordinary things that we do every day; so that projects can be developed that lead young people to look with a more scientific, with a more mathematical eye, at the ordinary world around them. Science and math isn't something you just do in the classroom to calculate numbers, or prove that scientific laws are correct. It's something that changes the way you look at the world around you every day. It changes the way you think about all the ordinary things that you don't usually think about.

Well, that's a lot for you to think about, and I guess I'll be speaking to you in the next couple of days and talking about the projects that you might have made and what ideas have come to you from thinking about this kind of programming. And so I'll say bye-bye for now, I'll speak to you soon.

- Event Programming in Logo Part 1
- Event Programming in Logo Part 2

Important Notice: You may copy these tapes onto your computer for your personal educational use only. You are not permitted to further copy, distribute or display these tapes, or the images contained within these tapes, beyond your computer for personal use. © Seymour Papert 2000. All rights reserved.