Manipulating Tangible Objects on an Interactive Table to Learn the Basics of Computer Programming (TurtleTable)

Date: 02/2016 - 02/2020
Funding: Autres

As of September 2016, computer programming is part of the official program in French middle schools. Many teachers, who do not have any training in computer science, are therefore in need of tools to help them. It is in this context that we designed TurtleTable, a Learning Games that has two main originalities. First of all, unlike most of the existing applications, this game is not based on activities where one has to write a computer program. Instead, the players have to execute a given program, step by step, just like a computer. These two approaches are complementary and necessary to understand the logic of computer programming. Secondly, TurtleTable is played by manipulating tangible objects on interactive tables. The players need to move their objects on a grid, by following the instructions of the program on the screen. The game indicates if the instructions are carried correctly, in real time, allowing the learners to understand their mistakes.


TurtleTable has 20 levels that progressively introduce computer programming concepts:

– Basic instructions (move forward backwards and turn)
– Loops (repeat n times, repeat until)
– Variables
– Conditional instructions (if, if-else)



A first experimentation was lead with 90 students of the La Salle middle school in 2017. The game was tested in three different situations:

– Interactive Table with tangible objects
– Interactive table with tactile interactions
– Tablet with tactile interactions