A review of Week 1 of our Programming course!
Oh mighty cat! Would you please let me Scratch?
As we start our journey into the world of programming, it is important to have a visual understanding of what Computer Science is about. Think of code as a series of logical steps required to accomplish a task. If you want to build a house, what are the steps that you're gonna take to build it? If you want to build a game of snake, how would you go about it? Here is where computational thinking helps.
Learn to Code, Code to Learn
What is Computational Thinking?
Computational Thinking is a thought process used to formulate a problem and express its solutions in such a way that a human or technology can effectively carry out. Now that everyone is relying more and more on technology in workplaces, businesses, social lives, and even entertainment, problem-solving using Computational Thinking proves to be the ultimate transferable skill to have!
For example, consider a simple activity like brushing your teeth. At first it sounds like a simple enough task, but in fact, brushing your teeth involves many simple steps. First, you’ll need a toothbrush and toothpaste. You’ll need a sink with cold water. You’ll need to put the toothpaste on the brush. Don’t forget to turn on the water and run your brush underneath. As you see, such a simple activity actually involves many steps, if you miss one step or put one out of order you might end up with a huge mess!
So before you dive deep into the the cryptic world of writing code, let's explore it visually by using our favourite childhood toy, LEGO blocks!
What is Scratch Programming?
Scratch is a visual-based programming language that's child-friendly with a thriving community and a large playground. Scratch projects encourage children to explore programming early on. The block-like interface allows users to get experience forming commands and may pave the way for deeper interests in computer science later on. It was created by Mitch Resnick, the LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab. He and the Scratch team designed the environment to be a fun, accessible way for both children and adults to get into programming. The group released Scratch 3.0 earlier this year. Scratch programming language has a fun, lighthearted playground with plenty of documentation. With each version of Scratch, users gain more experience and get comfortable manipulating their virtual environment. The drag-and-drop programming style is an excellent, low-pressure introduction to the concept of building programs.
How is it helpful?
The ability to code computer programs is an important part of literacy in today’s society. When people learn to code in Scratch, they learn important strategies for solving problems, designing projects, and communicating ideas.
Who Uses Scratch?
Like everyone? Duh!
Scratch is designed especially for ages 8 to 16, but is used by people of all ages. Millions of people are creating Scratch projects in a wide variety of settings, including homes, schools, museums, libraries, and community centers. You read that right? Millions! Oh yes.
Learn Scratch Programming
First first first, grab some popcorn and drink, don't spill it, and head over to https://scratch.mit.edu/ and embrace the awesomeness.
Alrite, welcome back! In awe? Hopefully!
Learning Scratch involves manipulating code blocks within the playground. The robust online community provides support and documentation so that scratch users have plenty of resources. However, courses designed to help you get the most out of this programming environment could be an efficient way to break into it. You can get into Scratch on your own easily, but sometimes having step-by-step directions to building help jumpstart your learning. These programming concepts could pave the way for more significant projects down the road with other programming languages, so getting started is your first step.
I really liked this quote presented on one of the research papers on Scratch.
“Digital fluency” should mean designing, creating, and remixing, not just browsing, chatting, and interacting.
How do I get started?
It could be a daunting task figuring out where to start if you want to learn scratch. But hey, the online community is superb. Head over to https://scratch.mit.edu/educators/ to see a bunch of examples with simple tutorials on how to create simple games and visualizations with Scratch, and also about the various Scratch Blocks.
And if you are teaching kids, here are few cards to help them remember the various blocks.
What If I am stuck on ideas or need help?
There is an excellent active Scratch learning online. You can find tons of resources on teaching and learning Scratch, and if you are stuck somewhere, just visit discuss in the Scratch community. When participating in the Scratch online community, members can explore and experiment in an open learning community with other Scratch members from all backgrounds, ages, and interests. Members can share their work, get feedback, and learn from each other.
How do you, as a parent, help teach Scratch to your kids?
Students learn mathematical and computational ideas in a meaningful and motivating context using Scratch. When students learn about variables in traditional algebra classes, they usually feel little personal connection to the concept. But when they learn about variables in the context of Scratch, they can use variables immediately in very meaningful ways: to control the speed of an animation, or to keep track of the score in a game they are creating. As students work on Scratch projects, they also learn about the process of design.
Check this out as parents: https://scratch.mit.edu/parents/
Do you need to be smart to learn Scratch?
Oh no no no. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Coding is easy. Just takes a bit of patience and practice. And don't you know what they say about all those clever kids?
I’m clever whenever
there’s no one around.
Alone, on my own,
I profess I’m profound.
If you think I’m clueless,
it isn’t a trick.
When people are present
I’m dumb as a brick.
But don’t think I’m daft
or not mentally sound.
Whenever I’m clever
there’s no one around.
— Kenn Nesbitt
What has the Arriqaaq CS family built so far?
There are some cool submissions out here! In a week worth of time, our peeps (kids and elders) have built such cool stuff! Check it out. These are just few submissions so far as our deadline for submission is in a week! These kids and parents are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
[We'll keep adding more!]
Throwing Knife Game
Maze, Maze, AMAZE!
A simple ping pong game
Want to check out free extensive courses on Scratch to keep your kids engaged?
Edx is providing free courses on Scratch for kids 8+. Enrol your kids in this program. It helps Learn the basics of programming in a playful, interactive way. Create your own programs in Scratch, while you are learning how to write good and clear code.
Hope y'all have fun with Scratch. See you in the next blog!
Arriqaaq CS is a sister project of Arriqaaq. Our aim is to create an online community of creative thinkers and problem solvers. Join our journey and be part of our project. You can follow us on Facebook, Instagram and subscribe to our website for more info on future competitions.