Let Children Scratch

scratch1.4Scratch was created at MIT. Mitch Resnick explains that Scratch is a tool that can help children navigate the creative thinking spiral, which is made up of imagine, create, play, share, and reflect in a circuit. Scratch is a great program to use to introduce children to computational thinking and programming. It can be used to engage children in creative computing, where they are not just consumers, but creators and collaborators.

In this media rich society, children spend a lot of time consuming information, browsing the web and conducting research. Children interact through searches, making choices and engaging in chat. Are we supporting them in creating and remixing? How creatively do we use new technology? Do we help children collaborate, reason, think critically, develop computational thinking, reflect, invent?

Scratch is considered social because it has sharing built in. MIT has a website for scratch and that website allows creators to upload their products, critique projects, collaborate, support. Projects ran in the web browser and can be downloaded and modified. The community is motivating because users can receive feedback and advice. Creators can be inspired by other projects, and collaborate by borrowing code, adapting or building upon programs, or working with others to create projects that the couldn’t make individually. Scratch allows the creation of network by showing which projects are related to each other. Scratch also has language support for a variety of languages.

Scratch is meaningful because it allows diversity and personalization. Users can create many different types of projects to meet their interests and learning styles. They can personalize projects by importing media, and create projects that are inspired by the real word or by their imagination.

Scratch is tinkerable. Programs are created through the use of blocks that snap together, so children can create through iteration and trial, leading to an emergent design. Scratch encourages experimentation and play because children can have a messy (virtual) work space. They can learn by doing because changing instructions during program execution leads to an immediate effect.

The current version of Scratch runs locally on a computer. The next version will have even more features and interactivity built in:

 

Want to try it out? Here are some resources: