This last week I spent some time checking up on some projects that I have been following over the last number of years. While looking at some projects that I was aware of, I came across one that I had not seen – Scratch. I have to admit that after playing with Scratch for a few days, and showing it to my son, nephew, and niece, I am thoroughly impressed.
Scratch is a project being worked on at MIT, with some affiliation with UCLA, and sponsored by a wide range of backers … and it is an impressive development tool … for kids! Their own website describes it as:
Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web.
Scratch is designed to help young people (ages 8 and up) develop 21st century learning skills. As they create Scratch projects, young people learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the process of design.
Coupled with the Scratch language and environment, there is also a “social” site where Scratch users can upload programs and sample code, and download these same programs to then learn from them, modify them, and re-upload them.Â I sat down and wrote my SpiroSprite program in maybe 10-15 minutes … and uploaded it to my Scratch account.
The environment and language is influenced by the Logo and Smalltalk languages, and presents a very simple, yet powerful way to learn login, event-driven programming, and create fun software.Â From what I understand it is written in Squeak … which seems to be continuing to slowly gain momentum.
For anyone that wants to explore the concepts of programming, with or without their kids, I’d suggest downloading a copy of Scratch and beginning to experiment.Â It’s really an impressive project!