Coding for pre-schoolers: a ‘Turtle Logo’ in Forth

*New!* (26 Nov) – Turtle Logo v1.4 is available now! Entirely key operated, suitable for 3-4 years+ to 99 years. 750 lines of Forth code. Algorithmic drawing program with advanced features, incl. macro record & playback, color, etc. Works on WinXP to Win10.

1. Inspiring the next generation of technology builders.

A challenge faced by both parents and teachers is how to help young children develop a ‘builder’ relationship with technology, instead of becoming increasingly passive consumers of content created by others. The consensus on what’s important for older kids and adults is clear: coding. This enables children to participate in the creation of their own technological “micro-worlds” — environments rich in educational potential.[14]

This autumn, spurred by having our own young children (one aged 4 years, the other 16 months), we began an experiment, the result of which is a Turtle Logo program for Windows computers (freely downloadable) that is simple enough to be accessible for children from 3 years and older, while providing an extensible platform that can grow with the child.

The long-term goal is to enable children to express their creativity, artistry, and natural ‘builder’ impulses using coding, computer graphics, and robotics as readily as the previous generation could using paints, brushes, and building blocks.

Turtle Logo - Inspiring the next generation of technology builders.

Turtle Logo – Inspiring the next generation of technology builders.

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The Advance of Sensor Networks and Autonomous Systems

The past five years have seen the emergence of a growing array of autonomous swimming, flying, and rolling vehicles, each highly sensored and capable of real-time communication with processors external to themselves. Practical designs are now commercially available for each of the four primary areas of our environment: terrestrial, marine (subsea, surface, and amphibian), atmospheric (gravity constrained), and space (orbital and planetary).

A look at a selection of these achievements in networked sensor systems will set the stage to discuss the communications layer of the ubiquitous computing stack.

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The Advance of Marine Micro-ROVs

A Versatile Tool for Marine Operations, and a Portable Undersea Platform for Small Sensors

Micro-ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles) are becoming increasingly capable even as their size and cost drop, opening up new possibilities for the application of undersea inspection, imaging, and measurement.

In this article, I’ll discuss four reasons why Micro-ROVs should be a routinely used part of a marine and water-side operations toolkit, and review some stand-out choices in the Micro-ROV category.

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Sensors and Systems

… Integrating Sensors into the Ubiquitous Computing Stack

“Smart dust”, tiny leaf sensors, wearable computing — these and a host of other sensors that make measurements and communicate without requiring human intervention can now be readily integrated into dispersed systems to provide ambient intelligence, situational awareness, and the capability for adaptive behaviors or intelligent process automation.

Whether the sensor’s output is used to control the opening and closing of relays or thermostats, or to automatically raise alerts — the integration of sensors into systems is at the heart of the promise of ubiquitous computing. And with the ability to place hundreds of embedded sensors within a given coverage area, each wirelessly streaming information, the possibility of self-organizing sensor networks is increasingly becoming a reality.

This article takes a look at the sensor layer of a basic ubiquitous computing stack.

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Knowledge Engineering & the Emerging Technologies of the Next Decade*

Between Mathematics, Computer Science, Software Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Statistics, is emerging an area of effort concerned, not just with using data or information gathered slowly over months or years, but with its real-time acquisition, interpretation and analysis, and its real-time use in appropriate decision-making, automatic adjustment, and intelligent response.

For a team capable of bridging the disciplines involved, the potential for application is truly unlimited.

*This article was originally written 15 September, 2005 when the author was Director of Engineering at BioSonics, Inc. It was published at MathSciTech on 12 January 2010.
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