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Teaching with Tux

Oct 22, 2009, 12:03 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Mike Diehl)

" All three games feature Tux, the mighty Linux mascot. In the paint program, Tux gives instructions on how to select a color from a pallet. In the typing and Math games, Tux shoots down invaders or eats fish as they fall from the sky. Either way, it's a nice touch for a children's program; who doesn't love penguins?

"When I first encountered Tux Paint listed as an educational program, I had some doubts. Almost every computing environment comes with a free paint program. What makes Tux Paint any different than the rest? What makes it qualify as an educational program? Well, Tux Paint is really geared toward young children; it's simple enough that they can use it with little or no instructions. It certainly isn't as powerful as the Gimp, but it has a few features that kids should have fun with. As you can see in Figure 2, I'm only slightly more advanced than your average 5 year old art student. On the left side, we see icons for the various functions such as drawing, text, and shapes. We also see an icon for “magic,” which gives us the menu we see on the right. On the “magic” menu, we see two brick tools, a “sparkle” tool as well as a rainbow tool. Kids can use these tools to create whatever they can imagine. My masterpiece demonstrates the grass, sparkle and brick tools. You can also see Tux, which kids can put in their art using the “stamp” tool. Most of the tools have their own sound effects to help keep the child's attention."

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