Welcome to the Sugar parents site. Here you will find all you need to know more about Sugar.


The Sugar Learning Platform (Sugar) was first developed as the software platform for the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program, a spin-off project from the MIT Media Lab in 2006. The founders of OLPC, Nicholas Negroponte, Seymour Papert, and Walter Bender promoted the idea that learning is not a luxury and lack of an educated society is not just an inconvenience. Learning is fundamental to a free society that aspires to be both prosperous and sustainable. All societies value the role that education plays in economic development and education is essential to the survival of democratic societies.

Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon, co-inventors of the Logo programming language (along with Wally Feurzeig), described their pioneering efforts to use the Logo language as a vehicle for introducing children to computational thinking, which they define in terms of heuristics: things to think with and to reflect upon. In 1971, Papert and Solomon published “20 Things to do with a Computer”, a catalog of project ideas, which ranged from robotics to music to the visual arts and a harbinger of what today is often referred to as the “Maker Movement”. Almost 50 years ago, Children were using Logo as a tool for the autonomous construction of meaningful artifacts and pursuing mastery in support of solving problems that were personally meaningful.

Sugar pedagogy

“Learning is hard fun.” – Marvin Minsky

“A six-year-old child can become an expert.” – Marvin Minsky

In a 2008 essay questioning “general” education, Marvin Minsky proposed that we “re-aim our schools towards encouraging children to pursue more focused hobbies and specialties—to provide them with more time for (and earlier experience with) developing more powerful sets of mental skills, which they later can extend to more academic activities.” Minsky encourages a child to construct multi-level “cognitive towers”, built upon instinctive reactions, learned reactions, deliberate thinking, reflective thinking, self-reflective thinking, and self-conscious reflection. The levels span agencies, each of which specializes in areas such as gaining knowledge from experience, planning and causal attribution, the construction of models, and identifying values and ideals. A focus on achieving meaningful goals, not just the accumulation of simple knowledge objects, exercises all of the levels in a cognitive tower, helping a child “develop proficiencies that can be used in other domains.” As a model for learning, the levels within Minsky’s cognitive towers represent skills that can be applied broadly.

Minsky’s towers are inherently complex and require a learner to be motivated and persistent in pursuit of their construction, a process that he once described as "hard fun." This is consistent with Daniel Pink, who has reviewed four decades of studies that demonstrate that motivation for learning comes from: autonomy to explore and express ideas; the confidence and space to master knowledge; and opportunity to engage in authentic problem solving, which leads to a sense of purpose. A key insight of Minsky, Papert, and Solomon is to give children tools that they can use to explore, that they can master and that they can apply to problems that they are passionate about. Children using Sugar are motivated learners, pursuing meaningful goals that lead to the develop proficiencies that can be used in other domains in the creation of their “towers”.