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SQUEAKERS, a documentary film


WHAT IS THE SHOW ABOUT?
SQUEAKERS is a documentary film about a new way of using computers to teach kids important math and science skills. Developed by Alan Kay, "the father of the Personal Computer" and based on proven tenets of cognitive psychology, SQUEAK is both a programming language, and as shown here, a pilot curriculum for teaching children math and science. We meet some of the leading educators using computers today, and see some kids in classrooms doing - and explaining - some amazing science projects at ages 10 and 11!

WHAT IS TOTAL RUNNING TIME?
43:37 It is modular, and suitable for commercial breaks, or airing of segments.

WHAT'S THE PURPOSE OF "SQUEAKERS", THE FILM?
The filmmakers hope to spread the word about this fascinating new way of using cutting edge technology to playfully and effectively engage kids in learning about math and science. In a larger sense, both the designers of Squeak (Alan Kay and group) and the filmmakers believe that long term results of developing critical thinking are world changing and important.

They feel that the more that educators and parents know about this, the more schools and parents will want to adopt these methods with their own kids. At the very least, SQUEAKERS challenges people to replace traditional "rote" methods of memorization and routine practice with something that works much better.

WHO WILL WATCH "SQUEAKERS"?
Any adult concerned about how kids learn - especially the difficult subjects of math and science - will find SQUEAKERS of interest. This includes parents, educators, psychologists, and anyone who places high value on developing the thinking skills of the next generation.

WHO MADE THIS FILM?
The creative team is a multiple Emmy award-winning duo, Jim Shasky and Bonnie MacBird, who have over sixty national awards for writing, directing, and producing. Ball State University provided a grant for SQUEAKERS, grant funded by Ely Lilly Foundation. Executive Producer is Scott Olson, Dean of CCIM, Ball State Univ.

PRODUCTION VALUES
Shot in Hi Def video in Los Angeles, Kyoto, Maine, Magdeburg, and Tuscany, SQUEAKERS also has an original score by television and film composer Matthew McCauley, and narration by Steve Bell, former ABC World News and Good Morning America anchor.

IS THERE A HIDDEN AGENDA?
No. There is nothing "for sale" about Squeak - the language or the curriculum. The Squeak examples seen in this film are free to anyone and downloadable off of the internet at www.squeakland.org. The original language, Squeak, that this new curriculum uses, is also free and downloadable to any programmers who want to use it at www.squeak.org

WHAT'S NEW OR SPECIAL IN THIS SHOW?
This documentary film works on several levels. For the general audience of parents and educators, it's a look at an exciting new school curriculum idea in action and exposure to some of the great minds on early childhood education. They'll hear some of the theories, and then actually see fourth and fifth graders simulating gravity on the computer, and explaining their work. Parents and teachers may be inspired to try the ideas and methods shown here.

For those with deeper backgrounds in psychology or education, SQUEAKERS is a groundbreaking new approach to the "learning by doing" theories espoused by Jerome Bruner, Seymour Papert, and prominent educators. And viewers with a programming or technology background will respond to the innovation of the Squeak programming language, a new and powerful object-oriented language by the creators of Smalltalk.

But even the average viewer will be amazed at the level of work acheived by these fifth and sixth graders, and drawn to the well thought out research and ideas of Dr Kay and his colleagues.

WHAT DO WE SEE?
At locations including Los Angeles, Maine, Tuscany, Germany, and Japan, we see
interviews with computer heavyweights Alan Kay and Seymour Papert, renowned cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner, and humanitarian and musician Quincy Jones. We also visit two Los Angeles schoolteachers, and a number of 10 and 11-year-olds doing math and science, including a first time Squeak workshop in Kyoto.

MORE ABOUT THE "FAMOUS FACES" WE SEE
Dr. Alan Kay is known as the "Father of the Personal Computer" for his work at Xerox PARC in the early seventies- where his group invented not only the term "PC" but also the desktop metaphor, overlapping windows, pointing, - the entire "graphical user interface" that is the face of all personal computers today. Internationally known as a leading computer innovator, Kay provides great reasons to rethink education.

Dr. Seymour Papert - pioneer in computers and education, developed LOGO in the sixties at MIT based on his work with Piaget. Logo is one of the earliest, and still one of the best, uses of computers in classroom education - and Squeak is the next generation out. Papert advises Kay's group today, and his interview explains why computers should play a vital role in education.

Dr. Jerome Bruner - professor at NYU and key advisor to the Squeak project is the foremost cognitive psychologist in the world and author of many benchmark books on how children learn including TOWARD A THEORY OF INSTRUCTION. Bruner is a major influence on the Squeak work and provides fascinating insights on the minds of children.

Quincy Jones, famous composer, producer and humanitarian, is convinced from his own charitable work that education is the foundation for helping Third World countries. In a special appearance in this film, Jones, who is on the advisory board of Viewpoints Research, watches Kay give a Squeak demo which uses the power to science to graphically convey the spread of Aids in a way that can help clarify the dangers of this epidemic to others.

WHO'S BEHIND THE "SQUEAK" RESEARCH?
Squeak is a programming language developed by computer pioneer Alan Kay and his group over the last ten years at Apple, Disney, Hewlett Packard and his own company, Viewpoints Research, a 501(c3) nonprofit organization. Kay is nonproprietary about his Squeak work and shares it freely on the internet. Squeak is being adopted worldwide with pilot programs in a growing number of schools here and abroad.

WHO PROFITS BY BROADCAST?
Any fees earned by broadcasting this show are split equally between the producing entity Ball State University, and Viewpoints Research Institute, a California 501 (c3) nonprofit.

WHOM DO I CONTACT ABOUT THIS FILM?

To arrange broadcast rights, contact
Dick Block
Block Communications Group, Inc.
Tel: (310) 452-3355
Or email: info@squeakersfilm.org