Introduction to Scratch – Lifelong Kindergarten Group. One of the biggest challenges in learning a programming language is learning the syntax of that language.
As the grammar of a language, the syntax is the set of rules that defines the combinations of symbols that are
considered a correctly structured document or a fragment in that language.
Scratch removes this obstacle by using graphical blocks of code to represent programming commands. Instead of typing commands (or mistyping them and creating syntax errors), with Scratch, you drag, drop, and snap graphical blocks of code.
To create a program or project as Scratch calls it, you simply snap those blocks of code together into stacks, much like Lego bricks. As with Lego bricks, connectors on the blocks suggest how they should be put together. With Scratch and its code blocks, you can control and mix graphics, animations, music, and sound to create interactive stories, games, simulations, art, and animations. You can even share your creations with others in the online community.
Block programming with Scratch is relatively easy, even for young children, and it’s a great way to enter the world of computer programming. You can start by simply playing around with the bricks, snapping them together in different sequences and combinations to see what happens.
Along the way, you are also learning important computational concepts such as repeat loops, conditional statements, variables, lists, data types, events, and processes. In fact, Scratch has been used to introduce these concepts to students of many different ages, from elementary schools through universities.
Creating with Scratch also encourages students to learn to think creatively, work collaboratively, and reason systematically. After learning Scratch, you can more easily transition to traditional text-based languages.
Introduction to Scratch – Lifelong Kindergarten Group
Why Was Scratch Created?
Developed by the MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group, Scratch was invented as an educational language that would make programming fun and accessible to a new and young generation. The researchers at the Lifelong Kindergarten Group noticed that children learn specific tasks and skills at school but rarely get the opportunity to design things or learn about the process of designing things.
Although many children know how to browse, chat, and play games on their electronic devices, far fewer understand how to create new devices, games, or applications. The Lifelong Kindergarten Group wanted to change this. They believed that it was very important for all children, from all backgrounds, to grow up knowing how to design, create, and express themselves.
Inspired by how kindergarteners learn through a process of experimenting, creating, designing, and exploring, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group extended this style of learning to programme in general and Scratch in particular.
The Lifelong Kindergarten Group wanted to develop an approach to programming that would appeal to people who had never imagined themselves as programmers. They wanted to make it easy for everyone, of all ages, backgrounds, and interests, to program their own interactive stories, games, animations, and simulations, and share their creations with one another in an online community.
The primary goal of the Scratch initiative was not to prepare people for careers as professional programmers but to nurture a new generation of creative, systematic thinkers comfortable using programming to express their ideas.
Programming supports computational thinking, which helps you learn important problem-solving skills and design strategies that are applicable to several aspects of life and work. When you learn to code in Scratch, you learn important strategies for solving problems, designing projects, and communicating ideas.
Three core design principles were established for Scratch:
- More tinker-able. In Scratch, you can experiment and create by snapping blocks together, mixing graphics, animations, photos, music, and sound.
- More meaningful. In Scratch, you can create different types of projects. You can create stories, games, animations, and simulations, so people with widely varying interests are all able to work on projects they care about. Scratch also makes it easy for people to personalize their Scratch projects by importing photos and music clips, recording voices, and creating graphics.
- More social than other programming environments. Released in May 2013, Scratch 2.0 enables you to create projects online at the Scratch website ( https://scratch.mit.edu ). The Scratch website lets you share your projects, get feedback, look at other projects, modify them, and save them as your own.
The awesome thing about Scratch is you don’t need to download anything. Scratch games, animations, stories can be saved and created in a web browser. Just make an account for free at https://scratch.mit.edu/
However, if you prefer to work offline there is a downloadable version located at https://scratch.mit.edu/download
As of this post, Scratch is available for Windows and Mac.