Today’s interconnected technological world is built on computer software. What are some things you can do to help your students gain a basic understanding of the underlying software that drives our modern world?
Introducing your students to Scratch will provide your students with hands-on opportunities to think creatively, solve problems and work collaboratively. Scratch is a visual programming platform created at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab and is available to all users free of charge. This web-based tool is designed for students ages 8 to 16 but used by people of all ages. With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share your creations with others in the online community.
To get started, visit scratch.mit.edu and join the community by creating an account on the upper right hand corner. Once logged in you will see four options on the blue bar at the top. Click on Create to begin designing, Explore to view other projects shared in the community, Discuss to participate in forums and discussions and Help to access training documentation and video tutorials.
To begin working in Scratch, click on the Create tab and explore the blocks available to you. Scratch 2.0 offers you 10 types of blocks: motion, looks, sound, pen, data, events, control. sensing, operators and more blocks. You can view all the options available by clicking on each block and reviewing your options.
In Scratch your characters are called sprites; you can begin by using the default sprite (a cat), select one from the library, draw your own or use a picture. Once you have selected a sprite, write an action script for it by dragging the respective blocks to the stage. Start with simple actions and gradually add more complex activity. Add more sprites to your stage to flesh out your project. You can add a backdrop by clicking on the Backdrop view and choose from the Library, draw your own, upload a backdrop file or use a picture.
Scratch provides a diverse set of resources to help you get started and to master the program. Click on the Help tab to view the Getting Started tutorials, reference Scratch cards and videos. I encourage you to explore the site and introduce your students to this outstanding platform to display their creativity. You will be amazed at what they can dream of!