Topobo: A Gestural Design Tool with Kinetic Memory, Master of Science Thesis in Media Arts and Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT Media
- A. J. PARKES
Unlike other sciences such as Mathematics and Biology, for example, computation is presented to students at a later learning stage. Even though they are able to establish sets of procedures, it is alleged that in their first years of elementary school, children do not yet present cognitive structures capable of representing symbolically, through existing computer programming languages, the algorithms associated with such procedures. Within this context, there has appeared recently a robotic kit named Topobo, capable of capturing manual movements carried out in their blocks. This article presents th first result associated with the use of Topobo as a language of manual programming. The study will lead to a decompiler able to furnish, with its control flux and its structure of adequate data, the program which results from the manual manipulation of the system by the child. In a more precise form, this work anticipates the utilization of fuzzy concepts for the representation of knowledge generated from the registers of manual programming of the Topobo elements. The utilization of the fuzzy formalism will allow a qualitative and diffuse description of the knowledge, in a manner very similar to the "intuitive" and "little precise" way which human beings handle information (mainly children), leading to an adequate structure and representation of the data which are being manipulated. In addition to the formalism adopted, the article presents a 3D interface which will be helpful in the performance of the experiments. In possession of the decompiled programs, we intend to evaluate the structure of data and control fluxes which will emerge in order to identify the mental structures utilized in the construction of algorithms through manual programming by children.