Children’s Machines

Children's Machine Exhibit VCF East
Children’ Machine Exhibit at VCF East 2014
Children's Machine Exhibit SecondLife
Children’ Machine Exhibit in SecondLife
Children’ Machine Exhibit in Unity 3D

Seymour Papert’s Turtle

The Logo programming environments are rooted in constructivist educational philosophy, and are designed to support constructive learning. Constructivism views knowledge as being created by learners in their own minds through interaction with other people and the world around them. This theory is most closely associated with Jean Piaget, the Swiss psychologist, who spent decades studying and documenting the learning processes of young children. Then in the mid 1960s Seymour Papert, who had been working with Piaget in Geneva, worked with the team from Bolt, Beranek and Newman, led by Wallace Feurzeig, that created the first version of Logo in 1967. The Logo Programming Language, a dialect of Lisp, was designed as a tool for learning. Its features – modularity, extensibility, interactivity, and flexibility -follow from this goal. — Logo Foundation

Seymour invented the idea of Logo while working as a consultant to BBN Technologies on a project for the US Navy. Bolt, Beranek and Newman was a prototype University Science Park. The University was, MIT where Papert and Minsky jointly founded and ran the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The project run by Wally Feurzeig was a blue sky investigation into how to use “computers” to train naval personnel. Logo was a spin off. It was a computer language aimed at second grade students. Programming a computer to solve a problem was a way to exercise thinking (particularly mathematical thinking) – the first computer based brain gym. — Dave Catlin, The History of Turtle Robots

Children's Machines


Gears of my Childhood (Seymour Papert, Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas)

Logo Foundation (Michael Temple)
Logo Tree Project (P. Boytchev)
The Design of Technological Tools for Thinking and Learning (Uri Wilensky)
Logo Memos

From turtles to Tangible Programming Bricks: explorations in physical language design (Timothy S. McNerney, MIT)
History of Turtle Robots (Roamer, 2014)

Logo MSX1

Logo Commodore

IBM Logo


Terrapin Logo

TI Logo

TI Apple Sprite LOGO & Word Worlds

When a TI-99 Sprite board was added to an Apple IIe,it essentially became a TI-99 with 32 “sprites” that could each be controlled independently using Logo commands. The New Computer Museum a number of these boards along with the original software and documentation.

Seymour Papert & Senegalese Colleagues (photo by Robert Mohl, ©~1982)
Seymour Papert at the Le Centre Mondial in Paris with Senegalese colleagues explaining Wolof “Word World” Xew (pronounced “how”). Photo by Robert Mohl, ©~1982

Logo TI Sprite-WordWorld

Hopper, M. E. and Lawler, R. W. (1991, August). Pre-Readers’ Word Worlds: Results of experiences with young children and new directions. Poster session at the thirteenth annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Evanston, IL.

Hopper, M. E. & Lawler, R. W. (1997). A progress report for the Head Start-Apple Logo Project. In R. W. Lawler (Ed.), Learning and computing: A dual-medium book (pp. 36-40). UK: Intellect Books.

Valiant Roamer

The Valiant Roamer is a direct descendant of the Valiant Turtle which was designed by Dave Catlin in 1983 and was Valiant’s first product. You control a Turtle from a computer using the language Logo. The Valiant Turtle moved more accurately than any other educational robot of this type. This made it very good at drawing the geometric shapes characteristic of Logo. Papert called this powerful tool an “object to think with.” To create drawings students had to explore and manipulate geometric concepts. — The History of Turtle Robots (Roamer Robot Tumblr)

The History of Turtle Robots (Roamer Robot Tumblr)


Apple Logo


Logo LCSI TurtleMath

One Laptop per Child’s XO Laptop

Linux-based system with dual-mode display—both a full-color, transmissive mode, and a second black and white display option, reflective, and sunlight-readable at three times the resolution.
The XO has a 1GHz processor, 1GB of DRAM, 4 GB of Flash memory; three USB ports and an SD-card slot for expansion. It has wireless broadband that, among other things, allows it to work with others as a mesh network; each laptop is able to talk to its nearest neighbors, creating an ad hoc, local area network. It is power efficient, enabling the use of innovative power systems (such as solar, human power, generators, wind or water power). What is the XO? (N. Negroponte, Chairman of One Laptop per Child)

What is the XO? (N. Negroponte, Chairman of One Laptop per Child)



From turtles to Tangible Programming Bricks: explorations in physical language design (Timothy S. McNerney, MIT)
Programmable Brick from LEGO (Logo Update Online: Volume 7 Number 1 – Fall 1998)
Lego Mindstorms: A History of Educational Robots (Audrey Watters, Hack Education)
History of LEGO Robotics (Mindstorms, LEGO)

LEGO Mindstorms (Official Site)
LEGO Mindstorms (Wikipedia)

Lego TC Logo first-computer controlled LEGO product (1986)

LEGO RoboLab

LEGO Mindstorms for Schools

LEGO MindStorms Discovery




Handy Crickets

The seeds for “Handy Crickets” date back to Seymour Papert’s work at MIT in the 1960s. Contributions were also made by Mitchel Resnick. Cricket design was begun by Brian Silverman with Fred Martin in 1995. Since then, Bakhtiar Mikhak and Robbie Berg have made significant contributions to the Cricket design. Rick Borovoy suggested the name “Cricket” and contributed to early conceptual work. The Cricket team also benefited from the work of more than a dozen MIT students. When Fred Martin left MIT, he licensed the work that went by the name of “Cricket” and launched the “Handy Cricket” as a product. — Handy Cricket FAQ (Gleason Research)

The Handy Cricket (Gleason Research)
Cricket Logo (Gleason Research)


The PicoCricket Kit is an invention kit that integrates art and technology to spark creative thinking in girls and boys 8 years and older. From 2006 to early 2012, approximately ten thousand kits were sold to schools, museums and individuals throughout North America, Latin America and Southeast Asia. The PicoCricket is still used by hundreds of thousands of kids around the world. For more information go to the PicoCricket website.
In the 1990s, a team from the MIT Media Lab, in collaboration with the LEGO Company, created the first “programmable bricks”; squeezing computational power into LEGO bricks. This research led to the LEGO MINDSTORMS robotics kits, now used by millions of kids around the world to build and program their own robots. The PicoCricket grew out of this same research, but with greater emphasis on artistic expression. — PicoCricket Kit (Playful Invention Company)

The New Media Museum has PICOCricket Kit provided by Brian Silverman
PicoCricket Kit (Playful Invention Company)
PICO Cricket (Playful Invention Company)