Scratch makes it easy for children to create interactive stories, games and art.
Building and creating is already very popular not just with hobbyists and DIY makers but also with educators. Many institutions have already integrated classes that encourage students to build and create things, whether they are physical creations or digital. It’s no wonder that tech labs, developers, and companies are coming out with various tools and programs that are designed to make building and creating easy for everyone.
The folks at the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT Media Lab have created Scratch, a programming language that helps children make their own interactive stories, simulations, animations, games and art, and share them with a community of fellow creators.
The programming language allows children to practice “computational thinking” and lets them experiment with coding in a way that doesn’t make them afraid to fail. Computational thinking allows kids to think logically and yet be creative about it because they can put together different snippets of code and see what happens.
Scratch breaks down coding into a step-by-step process so that kids and even grown-ups can build something by selecting different codes, adding them together then trying them out to see how they work. If they don’t work well or if they don’t work the way the user wanted, the creators can just fix it by changing up the codes.
Scratch makes building interactive stories, animations and other creations into a highly visual exercise instead of being text-based like what typical programming is. Codes can be created by putting together blocks of specific actions instead of text. That means the users or creators don’t have to worry themselves about stuff like brackets and commas.
Scratch creators can share their work with the Scratch community, which fosters a culture that highlights creating and sharing. Community members are encouraged to share their creations and learn from other people’s work.
There is a growing community of teachers and educators who support and work with Scratch, and this led to the launch of ScratchEd in 2009. ScratchEd is an online community where Scratch educators can share their experiences and exchange resources, and improve their own teaching programs.
The Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab is currently collaborating with the DevTech Research Group at Tufts University and the Playful Invention Company for ScratchJr, an introductory programming language for children who are 5 to 7 years old.
Watch the video for a quick demo of Scratch.