It’s no news that students
that are successful learning arithmetic often stumble and even fall, without
ever getting up, when faced with learning algebra.

As a math and science
educator, I can report that little attention is given to laying the conceptual groundwork
students need to make the transition from arithmetic to algebra.

When
classroom computers became available in the early 1980s (my first computer was
an 8K Commodore PET with tape cassette drive), I believed that finally, we had
a tool that would make learning algebra not only relevant but also easy! That
belief was—and still is— based on the fact that programming requires *algebraic*
thinking.

Perhaps the
most fundamental concept in algebra and programming is the concept of a *variable*.
In the typical algebra text, the variable concept is briefly mentioned and then
quickly followed by the never-ending song and dance between the x’s and the
y’s. The variable* x* becomes synonymous with *unknown* and for many
students, the *x *and algebra itself remains an unknown.

to
download a copy of his article.]

He goes on to say that computer programming makes use of all five uses of
the variable! For this and many other reasons (problem-solving and logical
thinking are just two) I hope my grand kids are willing to learn introductory
programming so that I can help them understand the importance and relevance of
algebra.

It is in this spirit that I have started this blog devoted to helping
beginners learn to program, maintaining contact with the teachers I work with,
and to having a place to share my math and science programming projects.

The *Scratch *programming language is free and can be
downloaded at

and while you’re
there, check out the site as it is a very friendly place for kids of all ages
and offers the opportunity to become part of a programming community that has
1,337,805 registered members that have created and uploaded almost three million
programming projects.

** Update: as of April 11, 2017, there are now 17,785,722 registered Scratch users and 21,608,051 projects have been uploaded to the Scratch web site.**