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Scratch Programming Series

Participants will use a friendly programming language to create simple video games and interactive videos.

Participants will develop skills with increasingly complex challenges as the units progress.

Getting Started
X and Y Coordinates
Control: If-then and Repeat-until
Input and Interaction
Keeping Score: Data
Broadcast and Receive a Message
Create Your Own Project

Objectives

  • Students will learn programming basics, including “if-then” logic and the use of variables.

  • Students will create their own animation or game using the Scratch programming language.

Materials

  • see individual activities for materials.

Background

Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab.  It is free of charge, and accessed through the website: https://scratch.mit.edu/

At the bottom of the scratch home page there is a box which allows you to choose a language.  The website text as well as the code pieces will be translated into whichever language you choose.  However the instructional pdf documents and comments within projects will stay in whichever language their creator used.

Students will vary greatly in the speed at which they learn to use the scratch coding language.  This series of activities assumes that the students start with no previous coding experience.  The suggested times are extremely approximate.

Ideally you should let students proceed at their own pace, introducing each new activity as they successfully complete the previous one.  Alternatively, you could introduce one or two activities each week, and allow those who work more quickly to make their projects more complex.

Have students share computers in pairs so that they can use pair programming, a software development technique that has proven effective in teaching programming. In pair programming, the students have roles:  the driver is in charge of the mouse and the keyboard and explains what s/he is doing.  The navigator is in charge of checking the driver’s work and is in charge of note-taking and reference materials.  Students should switch roles every 5 to 7 minutes. Disparity between experience levels can cause frustration within groups. When possible, group students who have similar experience levels with programming. Create new groups for each separate project.

Use the projector or SMART Board to introduce each idea.

Vocabulary

Scratch: A programming platform created by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, particularly for the use of children and teens

Sprite: a cartoon character that can be moved or animated by Scratch code

Costume: a sprite can have several variations in its appearance, called costumes.

Script: The logic (code) that controls the sprites.

Stage: the part of the screen containing the sprites and backdrop, where all the action takes place

Backdrop: the background image on the stage

Block: a piece of Scratch logic.  Blocks are formatted in different shapes so that it is easy to see how they can fit together.

Other Resources

The Scratch web community has many suggestions, challenges and tutorials, examples at:

MIT | Scratch | Help

MIT | Scratch | Explore

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