Friday, April 26, 2013

Do You Know Scratch?

If you don't know Scratch, you don't know what you're missing!  Developed at the MIT Media Lab, with financial support from the National Science Foundation, Microsoft, Intel Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Google, Iomega and MIT Media Lab research consortia, Scratch is an easy, open source  programming language that can be used to program almost anything the imagination can conjure! To give you an example -- several years ago, without any help from me, my son drew a picture on MS Paint, and used Scratch to animate it.  The picture is below. If you click on it, you can view the image in Scratch and watch the man take a bite of the hamburger, chew, swallow, drink soda, swallow, and return to smiling.
Scratch Project
Click to view the project on Scratch,
then click the green flag to animate!

Fast food
The colored lines in the left frames are the lines
of code required to animate the drawing.

My son created this by himself while in elementary school.  Imagine what he could have created if the following book had been available!

LEAD Project. 2012. Super Scratch Programming Adventure! Learn to Program by Making Cool Games!  San Francisco: No Starch Press.

Super Scratch Programming Adventure! is part instruction manual and part graphic novel. Mitch and Scratchy are trapped in a battle with the Dark Wizard and his Minions. You, the reader, can extradite them from  predicaments using Scratch.  The story may not be engrossing, but it is a novel and entertaining way to introduce step-by-step coding instructions.  The reader is simultaneously creating video games and inhabiting one.  By the end of each of the book's ten chapters, the reader will have a fully functioning game created from scratch (both literally and figuratively), with each chapter building upon knowledge from previous chapters.

The game I was creating with Super Scratch Programming Adventure! is lost to a pre-Superstorm Sandy computer, however, I can attest to the fact that it was fun, easy and satisfying.

The book is available in print or ebook (PDF) format. Click here for a sample chapter from Super Scratch Programming Adventure!

 Classroom teachers may not have the available time to devote to programming with Scratch, but they should certainly become familiar with it. Computer club advisers, homeschoolers, scouting groups, and parents of young "tech geeks" should not waste a minute in checking out Scratch's infinite possibilities.  Suggested for ages 8 and up.

A sample of the games that can be created using Super Scratch Programming Adventure!

From the Scratch website:
Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share your creations on the web. As young people create and share Scratch projects, they learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.
It's STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)STEM Friday

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