[Squeakland] "add a parameter" script feature in etoys

Tony Forster forster at ozonline.com.au
Tue Nov 6 17:40:03 PST 2007

Bill writes:
>> I can't assign a variable to the "add a parameter" feature available
>> through the scripts menu in etoys. The parameter type is displayed
>> and the type can be altered but it doesn't go green when I try to
>> replace it with a variable of the right type. I can drag off a tile
>> for the parameter type but that doesn't seem to help.

I had a different but similar tile problem last weekend. I had successfully 
dragged the tile var1 onto move forward 5 to turn it into move forward var1. 
I then looked for a way to turn it back to move forward 5. I guessed I was 
looking for a "constant" tile but couldn't find or create one.

My concern is less about what the solution to my problem is but rather why 
finding the solution was not intuitive. I have taught kids aged 10-14 with 
another drag&drop programming language, Game Maker, and they only need 1/2 
hour of instruction and they are teaching themselves the programming 
environment and have made a Pacman style game in 2 hours. This was my third 
attempt with Etoys, two previous 1 hour sessions had been unproductive, my 
most recent session was three hours and at the end I still hadn't been able 
to drive and steer my car with the cursor keys. I had been able to make it 
move on any key and could steer and move by clicking on other rectangles, 
but 5 hours in and I still can't make a rudimentary game.

I could not find a help system. The context sensitive bubbles are good for 
identifying what a feature does but are no use in the reverse direction, 
when you know what you want to do and are looking for the thing that does 
it. Nevertheless a help system is not much use to 10-14 year olds, they 
almost never read the help, it would have helped me though!

My question is, why aren't the solutions to my and Bill's questions 
intuitive enough for a 10-14 year old to solve if they can be made intuitive 
in other drag&drop environments?


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