1. We have a new Local Lab. A warm welcome to North Dakota State University (NDSU). Their plan is “to do software development, deployment, and support, including providing local and regional technical and pedagogical support; creating new learning activities and pedagogical practice; providing localization and internationalization of software, content, and documentation; and providing integration and customization services.” It is worth checking out their blog, which has many interesting observations about Sugar.
2. Following up on a thread begun in mid July, the Sugar oversight board passed a motion to empower Sugar Labs to award certificates to developers to acknowledge and celebrate their contributions to the Sugar Learning Platform. Several certificates will be made available, based upon the area of contribution. The certification mechanism is decentralized: the specific criteria for certification will be determined by the Sugar Labs team coordinators; in general, it will involve a repeated effort on behalf of the team’s goals at a high level of quality.
As an example, the Activity team may issue a Sugar Activity Developer certificate to an individual who develops at least one Sugar activity that is subsequently posted on the Sugar activity portal and be of sufficient quality to be approved for public release. The activity must also include internationalization, including the submission of a POT file to the Translation Team, and documentation, including the creation of a page in the wiki under the Activity category. As will the Contributor certificates, sign off will be made by the associated team coordinators, in this case the Activity team.
3. Gary Martin, Manuel Quiñones, Gonzalo Odiard, Rafael Ortiz, and I have been busy working on the Sugar toolbars. You can follow our progress in the wiki. Our goal is to provide a consistent framework for all activities and to make sure that all of the Fructose activities have been ported to the 0.86-style toolbars before the next releases from both OLPC and AC.
4. As part of the toolbar cleanup, I could not resist adding a feature to the Distance activity that I have wanted since the first time I saw it demonstrated by Ben Schwartz. There is now a toolbar for adjusting the units used – the default is still meters, but you can measure in centimeters, inches, feet, or yards as well. In addition, you can use the current distance being measured as your unit of measure, i.e., Distance will let you measure in ‘Smoots‘. I also made an updated activity page for Distance.
5. The OLPC team in Australia has a new discussion portal that has been seeing many posts from teachers using Sugar. One of the teachers, Frank Van Den Boom, was looking for a Powerpoint equivalent in order to let children manipulate pictures of currency. Van Den Boom has some learning exercises relating to currency that involve building equivalencies with different bills and coins. Of course, I immediately thought of how Turtle Art might be used for such an exercise. After doing the obvious: rendering images of money, I opted to write a plug in that provides a palette of coins and bills that can be used as if their were number blocks; e.g. they can be used with the various arithmetic operators and they can be used with the various turtle commands. A silly but revealing example uses currency to draw a square. You can download the plug ins for various currencies from the Turtle Art page in the wiki.
6. During a discussion about curricula guidelines, Gary Martin generated a self-organizing map for the Science Education Framework published by the United States National Academies. I thought it would be interesting to how some other guidelines mapped, so I asked him to generate some from the Newton Public Schools, a well-regarded US system (See Curriculum Overview Documents for Parents, “Your Child’s Year in Grades K- 8”). The results are fascinating, particularly the frequency of words such as ‘identify’, ‘understand’, and, my favorite, ‘appropriate’.
In the community
7. Nickelodeon and MTV in conjunction with OLPC is staging an international contest for the best narratives generated using Sugar.
8. Daniel Drake has created a page in the wiki for discussing the migration to GNOME 3.0. There is a section for the Desktop Summit, which is underway in Berlin. Raul and friends have already gotten a Sugar Hello World running.
9. Hilaire Fernandes has announced Release 11.08 of DrGeo, which is fully working with the latest stable Sugar release. Additional features include:
- very easy user interface to keep/open sketches from a preview list;
- the canvas user interface is touch pad friendly;
- the rendering speed was improved.
Hilaire is looking for help in translation, especially for Spanish and English.
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