Sophomore Designs Computer Project

Plans for City Schools

Cambridge school children may soon add computer programming to their repertoire of reading, writing, and arithmetic, because of the efforts of Philip N. Klein '84.

Klein, an Applied Mathematics concentrator and Leverett House resident, is designing a computer curriculum for local schools that uses a special programming language developed for children. He has written proposals to Texas Instruments and Apple Computer, asking for a donation of $10,000 worth of "hardware" to be used in Cambridge Public Schools.

Klein said yesterday he has received "enthusiastic" responses about his project--which he hopes to see implemented in the spring--from area schools, including the Rindge-Latin High School and the Agassiz Elementary School. He added that he has not yet received an answer from the companies.

"Klein's ideas and project are fine." Paul F. Lyons, head of the Mathematics Department at Rindge-Latin, said yesterday. "I just hope Klein can deliver the goods. He seems to have the ability to deliver what he's promising."

"I'd like to make the children think like psychologists-- have them look at their own thought processes as they work out problems," he said.


Elementary schools are Klein's favorite target for the project, he said, adding that he would like to see Cambridge students get an "early start" in computer technology. "The earlier you learn it, the earlier you can apply it. At that level, it's important to use innovative teaching techniques," he said.

Volunteers from Harvard or MIT would supervise the project, visiting schools on a weekly basis, Klein said. Klein himself is a volunteer: Working on the project since September, he has received neither money nor college credit.

"Harvard has lots of resources and Cambridge doesn't," he said, adding, "Harvard should do more for the community and voluntarism is one way to help."

Klein said he was inspired by the work done in the early '70s at MIT's artificial intelligence laboratory, where computer scientists created the LOGO language, designed exclusively for children.

According to Klein's proposal, Cambridge students would use LOGO not only for programming, but also as a tool for problem-solving. Students would then apply their skills in problem-solving to other areas, he said, particularly writing and grammar