Click here for this interactive resource.
The available challenges include Mazes, geometric shapes to be duplicated (click Drawing), and Rocks to be avoided in getting to the flower goals. The Blank mode (which is the default opening mode) allows the teacher to pose any given assignment, or to allow one student to challenge another. The Turtle program, while allowing single steps forward (right arrow key), it is also possible (and desirable, since the steps are smaller) to make one instruction to go forward 2, 3, 4, or 5 steps. The right arrow key with the + sign brings up the menu to choose the number of steps desired. Similarly, the right and left turn buttons require choosing the number of degrees of turning (15, 30, 45, 60, 75, or 90 degrees in either direction).
While it is possible to program a path that goes through an obstacle (such as rocks), the goal of course is to avoid them. Pressing the color wheel button and then choosing one of the five colors determines the color of the path that the turtle follows. While the use of color can be left solely to delight the programmer, it also lends itself to cooperative (and/or competitive) work. One student might be allowed perhaps three program instructions with a first color, and the next student must set a new color and add three more program instructions. Each path portion can be played to see where the student must work from.
We would suggest that group discussion might profitably precede work with this manipulative, talking about the different kinds of programming instructions, watching sample paths on a blank workspace and observing the consequences of different amounts (and directions) of turning. Some of the suggested Drawing goals can be fairly challenging, and when students are working together in pairs or small groups, duplicating a drawing made on paper can serve as a good challenge to others in the group (with the challenger, of course, needing to demonstrate if necessary).
The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives is a three-year NSF supported project to develop a library of uniquely interactive, web-based virtual manipulatives or concept tutorials, mostly in the form of Java applets, for mathematics instruction (K-8 emphasis). The project includes dissemination and extensive internal and external evaluation. For more information, please visit www.matti.usu.edu.
Java Applet Programming
Web Site Programming