Scratch for Education
Scratch is a programming environment designed to be easy to learn and use for people with no programming experience. It turns a computer into a digital sandbox - you can build anything you want. What could you do with computer if you werent limited to software or websites but you could create anything you can imagine? What do you want to build first?
Scratch Makes Programming Easy
Scratch is a tool in the tradition of LOGO, but with an innovative interface to help the user create objects (sprites) and instructions (scripts) to control their behavior. Unlike programming where you need to learn a lot of rules - the rules are built into the system. You simply start playing. The key is the way that the scripting is constructed - not from typing but by dragging the script elements from the library into a "stack" of commands. See the screen shot below.
Column 1 is the library of available programming elements (commands, tests, variables etc). Notice that each element has a particular shape so that it will only fit in certain place. Variables for example are ovals - so any command that calls for a variable has a space to fill in an oval. Categories of elements are motion, looks, sound, pen, control, sensing, numbers and variables.
Column 2 is the information for the selected sprite. Each object on the screen (including the "stage" background) is a sprite. Sprites can have scripts, costumes and sounds. Their are tools to draw costumes and record sounds (or upload them). The most important part are the scripts. Scripts are put together by dragging programming elements from column 1 together into the script for the current sprite. The peices snap together (if they fit) like legos. Start your scripts with a control element like "when the spacebar is pressed..."
Column 3 has the "stage area" (the white area where sprites can move) and the collection of sprites. Click on a sprite or the stage icon to access the scripts and costumes for the sprite. At the top of the column are tools to move, copy, delete and change the size for any visible sprite.
The best way to learn is to go and play. Make a sprite, have it move in some way (e.g. follow the mouse, make a square, bounce around)
Here are some links for more information from the scratch site:
* Getting started guide (pdf) * How to videos * Learning with scratch (pdf) * Mitch Resnick's lifelong kindergarten talk
Share Your Creations and Learn from Others
The "Share" button on scratch allows you to upload your projects to the scratch website. Once a project is uploaded anyone can download the project and create their own modifications. This allows people to learn from each other and build off each other's work.
Scratch in the Classroom
Scratch is starting to be used in classrooms in a variety of ways
Resources for Teachers
Scratch Day is a fantastic event - and the website is a great resource for finding other Scratch websites. Here are some of our favorites: