ACSLogo

, Apr 10, 2005

Turtle in action
ACSLogo German Screenshot

Recently, Don Box wondered what would be the ideal programming language for teaching kids to program. (See also the LtU thread, my own entry on it and the comment left there, as well as Steve’s quest for the same thing).

I tried to find something specifically for the Mac (since our household is now mercifully Wintel-free), and came across Alan Smith’s ACSLogo, a free Logo environment for the Mac, which is insanely great and exactly what I was looking for. Since I didn’t want to distract my son from the programming stuff by having to deal with a second new language, I got in touch with Alan asking for a localized version. It turned out that one was nearly done, which I helped finalize and which you can download for free.

When I last programmed in Logo, I was about 11 years old, so I didn’t remember much about it (except for the turtle, which - due to the awkwardness of spelling “Schildkröte” in German - has become “Igel” (hedgehog) in the localized version); I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that it has very clear Scheme/Lisp roots.

In any case, ACSLogo is taking advantage of many of the Mac’s cool features; in fact, it even won an award for it. I can’t imagine a better learning environment — it may be as good a reason to get a Mac as any.