Developing Sugar Activities Using HTML5

Using HTML in a Sugar Activity is not new. The Wikipedia Activity has been embedding HTML contents for years. It does this by integrating into the Activity two things: the Sugar browser to render HTML and an HTTP server to react to user clicks by calling Python code.

To learn more on how to Develop Sugar Activities Using HTML5 read the new chapter on the How to Develop your Sugar Activities Manual.

Four new Sugar Activities

Letter Match is an activity for introducing the Spanish vowels. While far from contructionist, this activity does provide a mechanism for learning the alphabet. It displays letters and images and associated sound files, such as ‘A as in ave’. There are two modes:

  1. see a letter, then click on the corresponding picture

 

 

2. see a picture, then click on the corresponding letter

 

 

 

AEIOU is an activity for introducing the Spanish vowels. It displays letters and images and associated sound files, such as ‘A as in ave’. It would, of course, be fun to let the learner add their own pictures and sound recordings. There are four modes:

  1. click on the letter to hear its name
  2. click on the picture to hear the name of the first letter in the word represented by the picture
  3. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding letter
  4. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding picture

 

 

 

I Know My ABCs is an activity for introducing the Spanish alphabet. It displays letters and images and associated sound files, such as ‘A as in ave’. There are four modes:

  1. click on the letter to hear its name
  2. click on the picture to hear the name of the first letter in the word represented by the picture
  3. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding letter
  4. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding picture

Finally, a cool app which uses the accelerometer in XO- 4, written by a Google Code-In student:

Level Tool is an activity to check the inclination of a surface with respect to ground.

 

 

 

Teacher from Nicaragua shares her experience with the XO

My name is Reyna Flores. I teach a combination of multigrade grades third through sixth at the little school Miguel Larreynaga in Tipitapa.

I hope that, like me, other teachers could have the opportunity to have the XO valuable pedagogical tool for improving the education of our children.

When working with the XO I tell my students that this computer is our “green little friend.” It includes great applications we call activities. We use them in any subject, and something else… We already have Internet! which allows us to enter the world of information.

Now, I want to share the pedagogical aspect in class:

As I teach four grades, the XO has been very important to increase the ammount of information, documents and materials that reinforce learning. I used to have difficulties when I taught geometrical bodies to third graders because there are children who have no geometric kits, then the activity called Paint Activity allows them to draw them.

When learning language arts, we use information obtained from Wikipedia and the children of the upper grades elaborate didactic schemes with the Maze activity as an alternative to reading techniques.

In physical education a stopwatch is needed to record the time-distance speed according to each student’s age. The XO has one.

In cultural and artistic expression we have no access to a marimba or the sounds that the student must know so here we come to the TamTamMini activity.

In science class, using the Record activity, children make their community tours taking pictures of what they believe is part of the environment and even pollution issues.

I also believe that the XO supports students who have some learning difficulties. For example, a child in third grade had pronunciation problems with the consonants L and R, so I asked him to write a list of words using the Sara activity, this way, the student could improve his diction.

At the end of each period, children take their homework and they relax with activities and Games that help them increase skills and mental agility.

Courage, dear colleagues! Let work for the children in Nicaragua. Lets focus on endeavor, affection, good will and the mystique that has always characterized teachers.

I invite other teachers to participate in the column “Teachers speak” because we must all learn from others’ experiences.

* Teacher at Miguel Larreynaga school, Tipitapa.

Latest news on Sugar Activities

At the urging of Reuben Caron, who had been contacted by the OLPC deployment in Armenia, Walter Bender wrote a chess activity for Sugar. It is a Sugar front-end to the gnuchess program, which is a quite sophisticated chess engine for GNU/Linux. The actvitiy, Gnuchess, can be downloaded from the Sugar activity portal and is documented on the Activities/Gnuchess page in the wiki. A few fun features include:

(1)  you can play against the computer, another person on the same computer, or over the network

(2) you can use a generic set of pieces, load in some Sugar-colored ones, or those of your own design

(3) when you play against someone over the net, they will see your artwork and you’ll see their artwork

(4) the computer will offer very good hints to new users

(5) games are recorded and can be played back as an animation or saved in standard chess notation.

Walter also have been making a number of subtle but important changes to Turtle Blocks. Cynthia Solomon (of Logo fame) has been giving him feedback and as a result, Walter thinks the box and action naming is much more streamlined and consistent. Also, the new flow blocks are much easier (and more intuitive) to use.

Check out Version 154 and keep an eye out for Version 156, coming soon.

Also, Claudia, Melissa, Cynthia, and Walter hosted a learning workshop at the OLPC office in Cambridge at which Walter got some feedback on the Portfolio and Bulletin Board activities. He is in the midst of streamlining Portfolio and also enabling comments to be made over the web. (You can get a sneak preview of Version 27). With the learning team, we have been developing a classroom protocol. Once the Portfolio activity gets released, the Bulletin Board activity will follow.

Walter has also been withing with the Fundación Zamora Teran team on the Nutrition activity.
More region-specific foods have been added and a new game: match the food to its food group. A new release will be available soon; a preview is available here.

OS 11.2 released! for XO-1 and XO-1.5

Daniel Drake has good news for XOs of all flavors:

OLPC OS 11.2 is now out for both XO-1 and XO-1.5, along with some activity updates.
Install it and check it out!

This release is build on Fedora 14 and Sugar 0.92, which includes a feature I am especially fond of: a touchpad-mode selector.  For those of you who miss being able to use the stylus-mode of the older dual-mode touchpads, this lets you toggle between stylus and capacitive modes.

This release has vastly improved build properties: olpc-update is now faster and requires much less free disk space, OS Builder is much improved for those spinning their own builds.  And the XO reflashes more than twice as quickly now:

As of this release, installation images are now sparse, meaning that data is only written where data actually resides. The result is that installation time is now more than twice as quick.

Solar charging has also been tweaked on the XO-1.5.

While there was no 11.1 release this year, there are plans in the works for an 11.3 as well.  If you have bundle updates or other fixes that didn’t get into 11.2, that’s the release for you.

huge thanks to everyone who has helped with developing and testing this release!

Dextrose 2 is available for the XO

Dextrose2, a revamp of the popular XOOS flavor developed by Activity Central and Sugar Labs, in partnership with Paraguay Educa, is now available for both XO-1 and XO-1.5 laptops. It has a number of performance and other improvements, including 3G modem and connection sharing. I can’t wait to try it out on my old XO-1s.

Dextrose 2 by activity central

The original Dextrose build + activities that was released last fall was based closely on the latest XOOS release available at the time (OS 10). This version has one major difference from the main OS: it does not offer a traditional Linux desktop as an alternative to Sugar.  (Some students managed to delete their Sugar home directories from within their Gnome desktop, making work with Sugar difficult until they had reinstalled it.  As a result, some teachers asked to return to a Sugar-only system.)

This work is now formally supported by Plan Ceibal, which has started to use Dextrose in their schools. It is good to see this much attention being given to activity development and Spanish-language documentation, and to close feedback loops with teachers who use the latest tools every week with their students.

So don’t wait — download a copy of Dextrose2 and try it out!

NB: If you’re looking for the latest Dextrose with the Gnome desktop option added back in, you can request this on the sugar-devel mailing list. It’s on the list of versions to make, but not a high priority at the moment.

bottle rocket on the XO

Mobile App team bottle rocket borrowed an XO for a few months to play with it and test out their apps on it.  They recently sent it back along with a donation from their amazing staff.  Their founder Calvin Carter writes:

“Recently I was having dinner with a client.  [H]e had his OLPC laptop with him. The waitress recognized the laptop and started asking him questions… While my friend was proudly demonstrating the newest model to her, I was reminded of one of Bottle Rocket’s core beliefs: exceptionally innovative technology not only enhances the way we do things – it redefines the way we live our lives. I realized that these laptops can truly change lives. What a perfect way for Bottle Rocket to give back. The next day, four laptops were on their way to tease out the imagination and ambition of their new owners.”

bottle rocket staff with their test XO

bottle rocket staff posing with a test XO

That’s a great photo!  I wonder when some of their apps are going to appear alongside Batovi‘s in the Sugarlabs Activity center

Second-grade Physics Activity

Cherry Withers writes about using a couple XOs, and some other netbooks with Sugar on a Stick, in a second-grade classroom.

I had 10 minutes of set-up for my small “talk” with a classroom full of 2nd graders and 40mins of instruction/play time. All told, I had 5 net books working with SoaS and 2 XO 1.5s…  The class was tackling Motion, Force and Balance on their Science curriculum and I thought the Physics Activity would fit in perfectly. They haven’t tackled the Law of Inertia (and I guess didn’t have plans to for this year).

I didn’t start with Physics right away. For the first law I opted to have them stare at an unmoving object, a plastic bowling pin. I told them to use their brain power to move it. Needless to say after almost a minute of doing this they were ready to knock the thing down (which they did in so many ways: shaking the desk, blowing on it, and just the good ol’ hand knock-down) They recorded their observations and we were ready to move on to the second law.

I set it up so that they already have Physics opened. I had them draw a ramp but didn’t tell them how to draw it. I told them to use whatever they can find in the program to do so. I got the variation: some groups drew it with the pencil, some with the triangle tool and a few found the polygon. Then I asked them to drop a ball on the top of the ramp and see what happens. They quickly figured out that their ramp would tip if they drew a big ball. Brianna’s group already knew the tricks (this is her favorite activity) and told everyone to “pin” it down. So we talked about what happens to the ball and how it ties to the 2nd law of inertia. One of the kids did ask me a question that stumped me for a second: “How do you know if it in fact goes on forever? You can’t see it go on forever. What if it did slow down and stopped some where else?”…

I told them to try to stop ball from rolling off forever. Some did try the easy way by just drawing an enormous “block” at the end of the ramp, but others found more creative ways: piling up blocks, some drew a bunch of tiny triangles and squares to slow it down, walls that are bolted and pinned. One group surprised me by thinking out of the box: slow down the ball with tiny objects on the floor and then bolt it down with pins. It was late in the exercise when one of the groups discovered the “pause” button.

Overall, it was a fun experience for the kids and they just absolutely loved the Physics activity.

Sugar on Nokia, Ubuntu, and computers near you

Sugar has been moving steadily to many platforms and distros beyond the XO and Fedora. Last year Guy Sheffer helped to get it working on the Nokia 810. This February it was repackaged for Ubuntu. And Mirabelle, the latest version of ”Sugar on a Stick”, is a bootable image for a USB key that lets you use almost any computer to run Sugar.

Have you tried the latest Sugar Activities on your favorite laptop? Give it a try, run an intro session at show-and-tell or a local computer lab, or introduce it to a child you know who is learning to use computers… and let us know about it.

Summer Pygames begin again!

The Summer Pygames, sponsored by South Carolina’s Palmetto Project, is growing this year — students from many schools will have six weeks to learn how to make games for the XO, from design and programming to art and sound production.  The results will be judged by elementary school students and teachers.  OLPC has donated some XO-1.5s to the event, which last year produced “Burnie’s Balloons”.  (And check out the video by the Burning Magnetos at the bottom!)
A tip of the hat to Elizabeth Barndollar and everyone who’s helped make Pygames a success two years running.

OLPC UNRWA Gaza (Arabic)

In English

Students with their laptops, after putting their names on them.

بعد انتظار ١٠ اشهر حتى الموافقة، شارك كلٌّ من الفريق الأساسي لحاسوب محمول لكل طفل التابع للأنروا، إداريين، اهل وأطفال رفح في بداية لامعة من برنامج  أنروا لحاسوب محمول لكل طفل في غزّة. وجرى احتفال لهذه المناسبة في ٢٩ نيسان. كنت محظوظة لأنني أمضيت اياماً سلفاً مع الفريق والمجتمع. لقد عملوا بجد-أطفال، أهل، معلّمون، مطوّرون فنيّون، وإدارّيون-إنّ مشاركتهم العمل أمرٌ ملهمٌ جداً.

يتميّز الشعب الفلسطيني بالتفاؤل، الدهاء والتفان لإنشاء شيء جميل من لا شيء. والأهم أن يتشارك المجتمع بكامله هذا الشيء.

لدى حاسوب الاكسو ميزة خاصّة الى جانب مواصفاته وأنشطته التقنيّة -فهو يدفع المجتمع ان يتفاءل بأطفاله. علّق جميل، عضو من البرنامج الأساسي، التالي: “هذا الجهاز متواضع, بإمكاننا خلق أشياء رائعة بواسطته”

لقد حققوا ذلك.

في فترة ١٢ اسابيع بعد اول مقدّمة لهم للأكسو، قام الفريق الأساسي والإجتماعي في غزّة بالتالي

تحضير البنية الأساسيّة

تصميم وتقدمة حلقات العمل ل٢٠٠ مدرس و ١٢ إداري

تقديم الأكسو لأكثر من ٢٠٠٠ طالب

مساعدة هؤلاء الأطفال بتقديم الأكسو لأهلهم

تصميم مكتبة عبر الحاسوب

نقل الألعاب التعليمية الخاصة بهم الى الأكسو

ضم تذكّر، دردشة، تصفّح، و تكّلم إلى جدول النشاطات في الصف

مساعدة المعلّمين ببدء توزيع الفروض المنزليّة عبر الأكسو

ملاحظة تأييد الأهل للأكسو في المحلّات التجاريّة والجوامع بعدما كانوا يشكّون في قيمته

بدأ الإحتفال بفتحي، مركز مصادر التعلّم للأنروا القائم في رفح، وبمثل صيني: اعط رجل سمكة وتطعمه ليوم واحد. علّم رجلاً كيف يصطاد وتطعمه لمدة الحياة


كان اليوم مليئاً بأجهزة الأكسو والصور. تمّ تصميم المنصة على شكل الأكسو مفتوح مع لوحة المفاتيح ممتدّة خارجاً-وانتهى الحفل بمشاركة كعكة عملاقة ومذهلة زُيّنت بشكلٍ دقيق لتضمّ النقاط الموجودة على الغلاف الواجهي. وقد علّق شخصاً من المجموعة بتلك النكتة: أتساءل متى وكيف أحضرنا كلّ هذا عن طريق الأنفاق

JAMedia streams television to XOs in Uruguay

Thanks to Flavio Danesse, one of the CeibalJAM developers, children can now stream TV and radio to their XOs using the new Sugar activity called JAMedia. This Sugar activity is a music and video player that can stream online TV or radio broadcasts, or play local media from the Journal. The result offers quite a fine video-watching experience, and for now offers access to over 25 television and 70 radio streams.

CeibalJAM recently made headlines by receiving an honorable mention from the Prix Ars Electronica annual awards for “Digital Communities”.

FoodForce2 update: facelift and new website

Foodforce2 team has released a stable release of FoodForce2 activity, and has refreshed its website at www.foodforce2.com.  (Aside from the delicious but lapsed Rollca Rollcats, this makes it the first Sugar activity to develop its own site!)  FF2 saw a great response this summer, with close to 150 thousand downloads over 6 months after the Beta version was released in May. This game has been developed to make the children learn to apply their education to build a self-sustainable village and learn to trade and strategize in a fun way.

You are given responsibility of the village during an important wedding.

You are given responsibility of the village during an important wedding.

The team welcomes your feedback and would like to encourage you to give the game a try. The new release has lots of improvements, with an improved story and interface, better save/resume, customizable building placement, and the fantastic panoramic photographs from its earlier versions.  Details after the jump.

Happiness is a warm bundle

Activity and collection designers have gotten a lot of attention in recent days.  Some of the heated discussions at FUDCon targeted the rpm v. xo debate — concluding among other things that content bundles and installation for non-technical users are regularly neglected by packaging systems (as root access is required for a lot of package work).

Numerous related projects were mentioned [CPAN, Ruby Gems, autopkg, Firefox extensions], and Michael Stone and C. Scott Ananian both got their licks in.  At the same time, a recent discussion about “making activity designers happy” brought up other ways to simplify making and publishing activity bundles.

What are your own bundle stories?  Have you plumbed the depths of Activities/All and come up wanting?  Does the Software Updater do it for you?