Turtle Tracks

“Daddy, can you teach me how to program?”

These were words I’d been waiting to hear for years. Finally my little girl was expressing an interest in using computers for more than games.

I saved and closed the documents I was working on, and launched the interpreter. Two windows appeared on the screen.

I pointed at a little triangle that appeared in the centre of one of the windows.

“This is a turtle, and this window is where she lives.”
“And this”, I said, pointing at the other window, “Is where you tell her what to do.”
“That’s a girl turtle?”
“Of course she’s a girl.”
“But what does a turtle have to do with programming?”
“We’ll get to that. First I want to show you how to give her instructions. To get her to walk forward, type ‘forward 50’.”

Hunting and pecking for the right keys, she slowly typed out the command.


She hit the return key.
The triangle on the screen had moved up a little, and a line joined its current position to its previous.

“Daddy! What’s that line? Is that turtle poop?”

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