Tuesday, October 28, 2008

programming from scratch

as you probably know now, i've been promoting scratch at the lacy veach day of discovery events.

Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share your creations on the web.

Scratch is designed to help young people (ages 8 and up) develop 21st century learning skills. As they create Scratch projects, young people learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the process of design.

i really like scratch, because it has a lot of great resources for educators, parents, and kids. here are some resources:
  • learn how to use scratch
  • information for educators
  • referrals and quotes
  • research on scratch
  • they even have a conference on scratch

    they even provide ways for the students to upload their scratch creations, comment on others, and even download scratch files. its a great way to create a community of kids and educators. check out the:
  • projects
  • galleries
  • forums
  • and scratches to help promote scratch

    how we scratch
    here is a short summary of how we utilized scratch for the lacy veach events.

    first of all, our role in lacy veach day of discovery is to provide interactive displays that hopefully teach the students about cool technology related to space exploration. we decided to use scratch to accomplish that, since we felt that programming abilities is often over looked in the aerospace industry.

    anyway, here are some things that we did to make scratch work in this type of event;

  • we developed quick lesson plans for students that would help teach the students scratch in about 5-10 minutes. the goal was to teach them some initial concepts that they can take with them as they try out the program in more detail at home. basically, we tried to have the students create two sprites and move them in different ways.
  • we created user accounts on the scratch site to upload their scratches to. here is the user account for the 2008 event; http://scratch.mit.edu/users/LacyVeachDay2008 and here is the account for the 2007 event; http://scratch.mit.edu/users/Referentia
  • we created fliers to give the parents and students making sure that we told the parents that the program was free and that it could be downloaded. we also made sure that we told the parents and students that their creations were going to be posted online.
  • we brought our computers and network. we gathered up 5 of our own laptops, complete with a entire network so we can exchange files between the computer. this was important because we wanted to display the students work on a projector.
  • we created a demo application that looped through the students creations so the students and parents could view their and others creations. this was useful as a way to attract students and parents to our display.

    lessons learned:
  • we talked to as many parents as we did students. parents are amazed that this sort of resource is available and free for that matter. the parents seem to be really interested. so, make sure you have enough volunteers to work with the students and parents.
  • some kids are really into it and want to do more than the basic examples. the scratch cards come in handy in these situations.

  • scratch is awesome because kids think its awesome. its really cool to see the kids face light up with interest when they see what they can do. they really get into it. and to me thats what programming is all about. its the creativity, challenge, and accomplishments that make programming awesome. hopefully, more organizations, teachers, mentors, and parents use scratch as an education tool.

    if you need help, let me know.

    1 comment:

    mzlynn said...

    Can you please consider recreating this activity for the Jarrett Middle School Career Day?