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Blocks Languages for Creating Tangible Artifacts

Authors: Franklyn Turbak, Smaranda Sandu, Olivia Kotsopoulos, Emily Erdman, Erin Davis, and Karishma Chadha
Computer Science Department, Wellesley College
Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA

Abstract: Logo turtles and Henderson’s picture language have long been used to teach computational thinking by inspiring learners to construct programs that create complex geometric designs. We have developed visual blocks-based versions of these languages, TurtleBlocks and PictureBlocks, that allow users to transform their designs into tangible artifacts produced by laser cutters and vinyl cutters. Our languages embody two novel features. First, they use constructive area geometry to convert the geometric designs generated by our programs into formats suitable for laser and vinyl cutters. Second, they leverage static typing and polymorphism to provide a new way to reference the names of procedure parameters and local variables in a blocks language.

Grade Level: 

  • Undergraduate

Difficulty Level: 

  • Basic


  • Computer Science

Resource Type: 

  • Paper