Archive/Current Events/2015-12-05

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Sugar Digest

1. Sugar Labs has been accepted as one of the participating open-source mentoring organizations in Google Code-in 2015. This will be our fourth year participating in what I personally find to be one of the most exhilarating community activities we engage in. I am especially pleased that this year Google is allowing Sam Parkinson and Ignacio Rodríguez, our "under-aged" finalists from last year, to participate as mentors (with, of course, parental permission). Watching their growth from Sugar user to Sugar developer to Sugar mentor is especially rewarding.

If you are interested in being a mentor or suggesting tasks for the contest, please contact me at walter --AT-- I also encourage you to spread the word to schools in your communities. Youths ages 13-17 can participate in a range of activities: coding, documentation, outreach, UI design, quality assurance, etc. Participants will learn a great deal, have fun, and help our community grow. Contact me for more details.

2. Last summer (in the Northern Hemisphere) Sugar Labs mentored six interns participating in the Google Summer of Code program. One of the nice things about this year's program is not only did we have new contributors to the Sugar codebase, but also, the projects attracted some new mentors to the mix. I had the pleasure of working with Devin Ulibarri, a music teacher and Free/Libre Software enthusiast. Devin mentored Yash Khandelwal, a student from IIT Hyderabad, on Music Blocks, software designed for teachers and learners to explore the fundamental concepts of music in a visual-coding environment.

We think that "Music Blocks is both innovative and [will be] beneficial to music education in a number of ways: On the one hand, it is a new method for understanding the fundamental concepts of music; on the other, it is a tool for learning coding and logic skills. It integrates both music and STEM fundamentals in a fun, scalable, and authentic way. Lastly—and very importantly—the tool itself is Free/Libre Software, which we argue is the best choice for an equitable and just education because it gives students the freedom to study, without restriction, both how to use the software and how the software itself works, i.e., how it transforms their instructions into their musical inventions." [1] (submitted to Constructionism 2016)

Since the summer, we've been continuing the work and have made sufficient progress to feel comfortable running some workshops. We hope to hold the first Music Blocks workshop will be in Miami sometime before the end of the calendar year; we are coordinating with Eduardo Marturet, music director and conductor of the Miami Symphony Orchestra.

While Devin and I had been discussing the ideas behind Music Blocks for some time, this is the type of project that never would have happened without the help of Summer of Code. Yash was able to make our ideas tangible such that we could "kick the tires" and decide whether or not it was worth investing more time into refining the program. It was, but you should judge for yourself. You can run Music Blocks in a browser; an illustrated guide is available; and the source is available in this git repo.

3. I gave a talk at an education summit in Dubai in September. It was at the summit that I met Samir Alsulahat, who took an interest in Turtle Blocks. As a consequence, Samir took the time to translate Turtle Blocks into Arabic.

In the Community

4. The Sugar Labs membership committee (Caryl Bigenho, Samson Goddy, and Sebastian Silva) has been busy trying to refresh our membership rolls in the run up to the next oversight board election. If you are a member of the Sugar Labs community, e.g., a developer, designer, teacher, etc., and would like to become voting member of Sugar Labs, please contact the committee at members --AT--

It is not too late to add your name to the ballot for the upcoming election. All seven seats on the committee are being contested. Some new faces and new ideas would be very welcome. We meet on-line for one hour on the first Monday of each month. (Of course, you are welcome to join the meetings even if you are not a member of the oversight board.) If you are interested in running for a seat on the board, please add your name and a brief statement to the candidates wiki page.

Tech Talk

5. The Fedora 23 release of Sugar on a Stick is available with Sugar 0.106. This release of Sugar (v 0.106) is dedicated to the memory of Marco Gritti Presenti. Marco was a member of the original Sugar team and the lead Red Hat engineer on the project over its first three years of development. Soft-spoken but determined, Marco was a founding member of Sugar Labs and one of the original members of the Sugar Labs oversight board. Beyond the code he contributed to the project—he was a gifted software engineer; Marco shared with us his vision that Sugar ultimately belongs to its users. It is the clarity of this vision that is still reflected in the Sugar code-base and the spirit of the Sugar Labs community.

Sugar Labs

6. Please visit our planet.