Sugar is a learning platform that was initially developed for the OLPC project. The Sugar Learning Environment can be downloaded and installed on any Linux-compatible hardware. Sugarizer mimics the UI of Sugar using HTML5 and CSS3.
The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project was launched less than 12 years ago. The goal of bringing down the cost of a laptop to US$ 100 was never really achieved. The project also did not turn out to be as much of a success as anticipated. However, the goal was not really about the laptop, but to educate as many children as possible.
The interactive learning environment of the OLPC project was equally critical. This became a separate project under Sugar Labs, https://wiki.sugarlabs.org/, and continues to be active. The Sugar Learning Environment is available as a Fedora spin, and can be downloaded and installed on any Linux-compatible hardware. It would be a good option to install it on an old system, which could then be donated. The US$ 90 Pinebook, https://www.pine64.org/, with Sugar installed on it would also make a memorable and useful gift.
The Sugar Environment can happily coexist with other desktop environments on Linux. So, the computer does not have to be dedicated to Sugar. On Fedora, you may add it to your existing desktop as follows:
$ sudo dnf group install ‘Sugar Desktop Environment’
I have not tried it on Ubuntu. However, the following command should work:
$ sudo apt install sucrose
However, Sugar remains, by and large, an unknown entity. This is especially disappointing considering that the need to learn to learn has never been greater.
You may try the new release at sugarizer.org. Better still, install it from Google Play on your Android tablet or from App Store on an Apple device. It works well even on a two-year-old, low-end tablet. Hence, you may easily put your old tablet to good use by gifting it to a child after installing Sugarizer on it. In this way, you could even rationalise your desire to buy the replacement tablet you have been eyeing.
Does it work?
My children are too old and grandchildren too young. Reason tells me that it should work. Experience also tells me that it will most likely NOT improve school grades. I did not like school. I was bored most of the time. If I was studying in today’s schools, I would have had ulcers or a nervous breakdown!
When I think of schools, I recall the frustration of a child long ago (just 20 years) who got an answer wrong. The book and the teacher said that a mouse has two buttons. The mouse he used at home had three!
So, can you risk leaving the education of children you care about to the schools? Think about the skills you may be using today. Could these have been taught at schools a mere five years ago?
The intention at the start was to write about the activities in Sugarizer and, maybe, explore the source code. My favourite activities include TamTam, Turtle Blocks, Maze, etc. From the food chain activity, I discovered that some animals that I had believed to be carnivores, were not. I have also seen children get excited by the Speak activity.
However, once I started writing after the heading ‘Does it work?’, my mind took a radical turn. Now, I am convinced that Sugarizer will work only if you try it out.
The author works as a consultant. Prior to consulting, Anil was a professor at Padre Conceicao College of Engineering (PCCE) in Goa, managed IT and imaging solutions for Phil Corporation Limited (Goa), supported domestic customers for Tata Burroughs/TIL, and was a researcher with IIT-K and the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (Mumbai).