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Madison Elementary received their laptops, but instead of Sugar being installed on an SD card as we expected, the technical support company, Byte Speed, ended up making “Sugar on a Stick.”
Fine with me–probably more interesting. I got my 12 year old to take the new set up for a spin. The stick comes with only a handful of activities. After struggling to connect to the Internet, and then having a little trouble with Browse, he / we eventually got to the Sugar Activities site and started downloading some of our favorites: Memorize, Speak, and a new one to us, Maze. Chris G. at Madison was wondering how to add activities, and the process turns out to be relatively simple. He was also worried that the sticks seemed to be about 7/8ths full, but these activities all downloaded and opened no problem.
My son loved Maze; patterns start simple, then get hard and harder, he probably stuck with it for 20 minutes before the Maze beat him. Then he went back to Facebook games.
Tonight I wanted to see what stuck on the stick. All the activities stuck. His progress into Maze did not seem to stick, but he might not have clicked “keep.” I heard a Bender interview in which Bender claimed computers shouldn’t have “save” buttons, but clearly Sugar does have a kind of save button, and if not used, work is not saved. The activities were saved, but not the work.
I tried out Maze on my 7 year old–similarly thrilled, but not quite as adept, and he had to go to bed after about 5 minutes. Then I tried to get back to the Sugar Activities page on the web, and was thwarted in various ways. Not sure if my problems were software or hard ware. I can imagine only the dedicated really pushing through problems like these.
Oh, so the thing I didn’t mention. I tried the stick in my own netbook, rather than the Madison netbook and initially at least, no problems. That’s where Sugar on a Stick seems so exciting–kids can take their operating system, and their work (if it saves) anywhere. If, however, the problems I ran into are because I was running S on S, then the advantages are going to be negated. The USB drives might need to be bigger (we will need to keep loading them up to see how many activities they can store), and of course USBs are notoriously unreliable, so I wonder how long these sticks will last.