[Squeakland] looking for some advice on teaching Squeak to advanced high school kids

Alan Kay alan.kay at vpri.org
Mon Nov 26 07:41:43 PST 2007

Hi Oscar --

Let's exchange a few emails about this.

First, what would you do if the kids were University students with 
the same experience? You have a day and a half, and you want to get 
them to see what is interesting about a dynamic object environment 
with a metasystem.

How much time (and how to use it) would you allocate to learning the 
language, debugger, stuff in class library, and metastuff? What kinds 
of dynamic changes would you get them to do? (E.g. how about changing 
the shape of objects that are dynamically in use? We once added a few 
instance variables to Morphic, etc., and it was interesting how well 
this worked ... .)

A problem with the short time (i.e. let's learn to play piano in a 
day and a half) is that it will be difficult to come up with a 
convincing example that is not fairly easy to do in a static early 
bound language (dynamic languages excel when dealing with difficult 
complex systems that are hard to debug otherwise). (One of the 
reasons Simula was not appreciated as it should have been in the 60s 
was that the example in their ACM paper (that was small enough to put 
in a paper) was fairly easy to do in Algol -- most people missed that 
Simula really scaled for many important problems where Algol did not.)

What are your thoughts so far?



At 01:09 AM 11/26/2007, Oscar Nierstrasz wrote:

>Hi Folks,
>I teach at University level, not high school, and have no previous
>experience teaching high school kids.
>At the end of January we will have a day and a half with a bunch of
>high school kids who are finalists in the Swiss Scientific Olympiads 
>( http://www.olympiads.ch/  ) and have the opportunity to get them 
>excited about computer
>science. We will have various sessions to show them different things.
>(I will not be the only one to offer something.  A colleague will be
>introducing the ones who have no background in programming to Scratch.)
>I wanted to take the ones who have done some programming (i.e., those
>who have done the Swiss Olympiad in Informatics - http://www.soi.ch/ )
>and introduce them to Squeak.  For the Olympiad they have been working
>with languages like Pascal, C and C++.
>I would like the session to be mainly hands-on, and get the kids to
>actually build something in teams of two with help from some monitors.
>Does anyone have any experience like this?  Can you recommend some
>specific exercises that would be fun and would produce a real result
>in a few hours?  My concrete goal is to show them how different a
>dynamic language and environment like Squeak can be from the languages
>they are used to.
>Any hints would be welcome.
>- on
>Prof. Dr. O. Nierstrasz    -- Oscar.Nierstrasz at iam.unibe.ch
>Software Composition Group -- http://www.iam.unibe.ch/~scg
>University of Berne        -- Tel/Fax +41 31 631.4618/3355
>vcard:  http://www.iam.unibe.ch/~oscar/oscarNierstrasz.vcf
>Squeakland mailing list
>Squeakland at squeakland.org

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