Kids and the Apple. (book reviews) Steve Gray.
Teachers frequently complain that there is a lack of good text materials to supplement the new computer literacy programs which are appearing in secondary schools across the country. Kids And The Apple, prepared by Michigan State University professor Edward H. Carlson fills in a big gap in text materials by offering a tutorial for a specific piece of hardware, the Apple II.
The Apple II isn't the only personal computer in the junior and senior high schools. You'll find Pets, Ataris, and TRS-80, but the Apple II is undeniably a popular choice. Given the clear, clean, logical, and accessible presentation of beinning programming in Kids, the Apple II may become even more popular, as courses are planned around an Apple II/Kids And The Apple "system."
the introduction to teachers states that Kids was written for students at the seventh grade level. In fact, the book is written with su ch clarity that an advanced fifth grader should have no unresolvable difficulties. The wide range of material covered should hold the interest of high school students in the first and second years.
This book is not just a recapitulation of previously published Applesoft tutorials. It looks at the material in a fresh, imaginative way, presenting it in a manner that gives young programmers solid conceptual foundations on which to build skills and provides a fundamental understanding of the logic of computer programming.
The instruction begins from the ground up, teaching the use of the HOME, PRINT, NEW, and RUN commands. The material goes on to teach skills in making the computer print in various ways, making the bell sound, inverting printing, recovering normal printing, and incorporating the appropriate commands in programs.
Every step of the way, concepts are illustrated in programs which the child copies from the book. As the instruction progresses, the child is given the tools to write programs that use string variables, call up subroutines, "glue" strings on program lines, and use low resolution graphics and even elementary animation techniques. as new concepts are introduced, old ones are reinforced and understanding is enhanced.
As suitable as this book is in a classroom setting, it is not an ideal home turoial, unless the parent is willing to make a conscious effort to monitor the progress of his child and to actively guide instruction. It may well be worth the trouble; in scanning this book I learned a few things I didn't know and found some concepts from my "adult" Applesoft Tutorial explained so clearly that my own programming skills now reflect an improved understanding.
Adding to the delight of the book are illustrations by Paul D. TRap whose whimsical drawings are frequently very funny and almost always valuable in visually reinforcing a concept in a painless, palatable manner.
Kids And The Apple. is just what teachers and parents have been looking for to convert the Apple II from a passive, game-playing diversion into a tool for learning and growing.
Review Grade: B