An old friend of mine, Dr. Barry Newell, is an astrophysicist who was was the Administrator (in the NASA sense) of Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories of the Australian National University. He now works on the dynamics of social-ecological systems. In his spare time (back in 1988), he wrote two classic books on Logo programming and mathematics, Turtle Confusion and the accompanying book for educators, Turtles Speak Mathematics. Turtle Confusion features 40 challenging turtle geometry puzzles in a mystery format and Turtles Speak Mathematics helps educators understand the mathematics their students are learning.
I was reminded of the books when Sugar Labs, the folks behind the operating system for the One Laptop Per Child XO laptop, featured the challenges as an activity to accompany TurtleArt software on the XO.
The books’ author, Dr. Barry Newell, gave me permission to share digital copies of the book for personal, educational and non-commercial use. Click here to go to the download page.
These books are best used with versions of Logo such as Lynx (newest option), MicroWorlds EX or Berkeley Logo. Some of the puzzles are very difficult or impossible to solve in Scratch, but it’s worth trying. SNAP! is another potential option. Turtle Art is strong contender.
Although, mathematical programming is often easiest and best achieved through the use of textual language (IMHO). A bit of dialect translation might be necessary. For example, CS is often CG (in MicroWorlds EX or Lynx).
Veteran educator Gary Stager, Ph.D. is the author of Twenty Things to Do with a Computer – Forward 50, co-author of Invent To Learn — Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, publisher at Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, and the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute. He led professional development in the world’s first 1:1 laptop schools thirty years ago and designed one of the oldest online graduate school programs. Gary is also the curator of The Seymour Papert archives at DailyPapert.com. Learn more about Gary here.
2 thoughts on “Cool Math & Tech Books for Free Download”
I like the books, but my students (at an “alternative” jr./sr. high school) didn’t. I asked them to try to use mit’s scratch to draw some of the designs, but six out of eight gave up after 2 minutes. One complained that “this isn’t real math.” I guess they need some more “scaffolding”.
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