[IAEP] Sugar Digest 2015-11-14

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Sat Nov 14 10:50:03 EST 2015

== Sugar Digest ==

1. Sugar Labs has been accepted as one of the participating open-source
mentoring organizations in Google Code-in 2015 [1]. 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 [2]. 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 code-base, 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

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." [3]

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 from [4];
an illustrated guide is available at [5]; and the source is available at

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 [7].

=== 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

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 wiki [9].

=== Tech Talk ===

5. The Fedora 23 release of Sugar on a Stick [10] 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 [11].


[1] https://developers.google.com/open-source/gci/
[2] walter --AT-- sugarlabs.org
(submitted to Constructionism 2016)
[4] http://walterbender.github.io/musicblocks/
[5] https://github.com/walterbender/musicblocks/blob/master/guide/README.md
[6] http://github.org/walterbender/musicblocks
[7] https://github.com/walterbender/turtleblocksjs/blob/master/po/ar.po
[8] members --AT-- sugarlabs.org
[9] http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Oversight_Board/2015-2016-candidates
[10] http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Sugar_on_a_Stick
[11] http://planet.sugarlabs.org

Walter Bender
Sugar Labs
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