Are you trying to teach children how to code? Do not you quite understand what your programming teacher says in the classes? You found your solution: Scratch, a programming language made to be simple. It was created in MIT (Massachusetts Institute
of Technology) by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group, which is headed by Mitchel Resnick and Andrés Monroy-Hernández. Just like every project of this group, Scratch is focused on children and teenagers, but everyone can benefit from it. As its main purpose, Scratch aims to teach people how to code by creating multimedia content and it is a lot of fun! Instead of memorizing and writing the codes, the user should move the blocks around to create the algorithm – this makes the creation process simpler. Having more than 10 million users registered and 13 million shared projects, Scratch is growing by the day and becoming a helping tool for kids, teens and even adults.
Prices and License:
Scratch is available for free and there is no “premium” version. All users have the same privileges and the things they create depend only on the user’s imagination. The Scratch team not only allows the users to create contents about them – books, presentations and articles -, but they encourage these actions, only asking in return that the creator of the content to share the Scratch website link and write (or copy from their website) a quick description about them.
Uses in the industry:
Nowadays, industries need people with at least basic knowledge of programming, and that is when Scratch can help. Programming trainings can be a lot easier with this tool. Besides that, another good thing about it is the popularization of the multimedia content creation and programming learning, since Scratch is available in several countries and in many
different languages, differing from most programming languages that are only in English. Furthermore, Scratch has a “hidden” functionality: integration with hardware such as the Picoboard and the Lego WeDo, therefore, helping employees to train in hardware skills as well, and expanding the tool usability.
What can we do with it?
Scratch is full of projects based in games, movies and animations. If you go to their explore page you will probably see multimedia content based on something you like to watch or play. One example of those is a Sonic – Sega’s character – animation. In the scene, the blue hedgehog has an enemy that wants to fight with him. It has a quick song on the background and the main character’s voice. Another example of multimedia made with Scratch is Paper Minecraft. It is an adapted game based on the 3D game Minecraft – a Mojang’s and Microsoft’s game. It is simpler to play and it was reduced to a 2D game. In the game, you should destroy blocks to get resources of the same type of the block that you destroyed, and then you can build things with the resources you gathered. After sometime of playing, you can save the progress you have made and play again from that point whenever you want. It has music playing on the background as well as the sound of the footsteps, animals and monsters that you can find in your way. It is a very fun game and an example of how the users can make something big with Scratch (with some work and patience).
Strengths and Weakness:
Most multimedia content creation tools can only create one type of content. The users should choose what they want to create and select a tool for that purpose only, but Scratch is not like this. The major strength of Scratch is the number of content types you can make with it: games, images, videos, musics, audios, slide presentations, etc. While you create your project, you can develop programming skills – in a very simple way, with many tutorials explaining what are loops, events and others programming mechanisms – and improve your logical thought. Scratch also has a very good user community, they are very helpful with each other and most comments in a project are constructive. However, while Scratch gives the user a wide content variety, it seems very unprofessional. The content made with Scratch will probably have no use in an industry or a big company. Other than that, Scratch should not be used for big projects in virtue of three problems: Managing big projects is hard because of the space they give to you to put the commands. The users can zoom out to get a bigger screen to work on, but by doing so, the words and commands get too small to read. Another problem is that you cannot “undo” something you have done wrong in the project (there is a button that recuperates your last action, but it has some bugs). Finally, the storage space that each project has is very limited, being less than 30mb for project.
Well, Scratch still has to have some things to improve, especially when it comes to its use in big projects, but it is a very useful tool and if MIT continues to invest on it, probably it can be someday able to compete with big programming languages.
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Burfoot, J. (2013, May 30). What is LEGO WeDo? Retrieved February 28, 2016, from http://www.legoengineering.com/what-is-lego-wedo/
Smith, D. (2013, October 14). Is Scratch the future of programming? Do we want it to be? Retrieved February 28, 2016, from http://www.codeovereasy.com/2013/10/is-scratch-the-future-of-programming-do-we-want-it-to-be/
Yee, S. (2014, December 4). Why I Believe Scratch Is The Future Of Programming. Retrieved February 28, 2016, from http://elearningindustry.com/scratch-the-future-programming