I’ve written before about a previous TurtleArt workshop I experienced, and it was also led by the inimitable Artemis Papert (artist, coder, and daughter of Seymour Papert) and Brian Silverman (co-creator of Scratch and creator of TurtleArt and many other Logo/Java based coding environments) and organized by Michael Tempel of the Logo Foundation. Artemis and Brian have been collaborating with programming, art, and life for decades, and it is truly a heady and hilarious experience to learn from them as they pair-code and critique each other’s choices. Brian and Artemis have tons of info and design inspirations for their digital art linked here: https://turtleart.org
Here is an incomplete list of some of the artists who have inspired Artemis and Brian’s explorations over the years: Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Bridget Riley, Nathalie Goncharova, Piet Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich, Claude Tousignant, Rene Magritte, Ilya Bolotowsky, Wassily Kandinsky, Sol LeWitt, Andy Warhol, Georges Seurat, Max Bill, and Maya Hayuk, Vincent Van Gogh, Jérôme Jasinski, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Jack Bush.
Below, you can download my PNG files from the workshop. Open up Web Turtle Art in a new browser window and then drag one of these PNG files into the window. This should allow you to view or edit the code.
I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations with Julian Altschul (one of the fabulous members of Brearley‘s Math Department) over the last two years. I wondered if he’d be interested in taking his tessellations unit into the 3rd dimension, and we discussed various tools we could use for a 2D to 3D transformation. He and I are both longtime fans of Geometer’s Sketchpad, Logo, and Scratch. I suggested trying out TurtleArt since it’s a clean and simple way to make Art while flexing their computational thinking skills. Julian offered a couple of days this week for me to join his Class IX Geometry students and tinker with them.
Yesterday, we began by examining the TurtleArt menus and blocks, constructing simple polygons, and then tessellating shapes. We talked about procedures and loops, and students were tasked with exploring and coming up with interesting designs for homework. Today, girls shared their designs (as PNG files) with the rest of the class, and we peeked at their code and considered ways to make their program as efficient as possible. Here are some initial doodles:
Here’s an example of the code powering the flower drawing below:
Then, something serendipitous happened, and a student shared the “rainbow thing” file below. After opening the file, I immediately hit the clean button to clear the screen in order to watch the drawing evolve before our eyes, but only one spiral popped up on the screen. The student explained she had manually layered spirals — each with a different color and different radius. It was a perfect segue to discuss how to enhance her code with variables (and more math!) so her fully intended design would bloom automatically. Another student talked the class through how to use the box1 and store in box1 blocks to assign and revalue variables. It was super exciting!
I suggested that students convert their PNG to an SVG (using this website), import their SVG into Tinkercad, resize if necessary (including giving their design more height), and export an STL for 3D printing. Julian is thinking that will be their next assignment…
I learned about Ramsay Nasser and Kaho Abe‘s Slowest Computer on Earth activity at a workshop in 2016. Since then, I’ve been excited to try it out with students, and today was the day! The Math Department leads an assembly for the girls every year, and this year I suggested doing the Slowest Computer activity. Maggie Maluf (Chair of the Department) purchased dual-sided chips, Karl Paranya created a paper template of rows and columns, and everyone helped facilitate the groups today. Girls were divided in their Houses which included students in Class V, VI, VII, and VIII. The older girls had an iPad handy, and used this to access PDFs of the instructions for four different activities: Diagonal line, Intersecting diagonal lines (X), a Minecraft Creeper, and a Circle. These PDF’s can be found on Ramsey’s Sponge Site which digitally mimics the activity.