Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 29 / OCTOBER 1982 / PAGE 166

Adding By Counting: Atari And Pre-schoolers

Stephen Levy
Bowie, MD

The two programs offered here use only the three Atari console keys to input answers. These programs should he useful for children as well as for programmers interested in learning more ways to use their machines. Requires at least 16K of memory.

Using computers to teach young children can be fun and challenging. The Atari's design makes it extremely easy for young children to use. The Atari offers numerous ways other than the keyboard for a child to input answers.

Program 1, called "Add," simply teaches a very young child to add by presenting a simple addition problem and an equivalent number of symbols for each number in the problem. By counting the symbols, the child can decide on the answer. The child then presses the SELECT key until his/her answer (with the appropriate number of symbols) appears on the screen. In addition, the word for each number in the problem appears.

To find out if an answer is correct, the child holds down the OPTION key. Program 3, which must be added to Program 1, contains the subroutines for the computer's response for correct and incorrect answers, as well as some music and sound. If the child gives an incorrect response, he/she is given another try. If the answer is correct, the child hears a song and then is given the option of another problem.

"Match," Program 2 (which also must be merged with Program 3), is designed similarly to Add, except in this case the child must match the word for a number with the correct number.

The Merge Timesaver

Neither Program 1 (Add) nor Program 2 (Match) will RUN alone. Each needs to be merged with Program 3. This was done in order to avoid having to type program lines unnecessarily. Program 3 should be typed and LISTed to disk (LIST "Dl: <filename>") or to tape (LIST"C:") first. Then type Program 1 and ENTER Program 3 to merge Programs 1 and 3 (Disk: ENTER"Dl:<filename>"; Tape: ENTER"C:"). You can repeat this operation to use Program 2. This avoids your having to type Program 3 twice. Also, all three programs can be merged into one by adding a menu option for the user at line 35 and changing lines 40 and 50 to IF-THEN statements based on the selection from the menu:

35 POSITION 3,2 : PRINT "Press |SELECT| for ADD": POSITION 3,5: PRINT "Press  |OPTION| for MATCH"
40 IF PEEK(53279) = 5 THEN GOTO 300
50 IF PEEK(53279) = 3 THEN GOTO 1400
60 GOTO 40

These two programs (Add and Match) have been written so that they can be merged easily.

Line 30 contains a long string which is used to print the word for the number chosen at random. Lines 105 and 115 in Add and line 230 in Match are used to select the appropriate characters from the string NUMBER$(line 30); this is more easily studied in line 230.

Here is a summary of the major sections of the program.

100-115print the proper number of symbols and the word for the numbers.
120-130select numbers for problems.
200-220position answer and symbols on screen.
230selects proper characters from NUMBERS.
240-260select symbols to be used.
300begins main program for Add.
318-360 print problem and go to subroutine to print symbols.
380-430are routine to select answer.
450-460check for correct answer.
520(5000-5520)correct response.
600-695incorrect response.
1400begins program for Match (select a number).
1430-1445print the word for the number.
1450prints number.
1460-1520select answer.
1610-1620check for correct answer.