I love Scratch. I have used it with students in school to create simple games and seen it used in a variety of ways across the curriculum. Scratch is one of the technologies that we are using to support our games design work at the Learning and Teaching Scotland Consolarium – more on this at a later date.
"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.
Scratch is developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, with financial support from the National Science Foundation, Microsoft, Intel Foundation, Nokia, Iomega and MIT Media Lab research consortia".
On Friday I attended the second half of the Herriot Watt "Look to the Future Conference" for computing teachers in Edinburgh. The afternoon keynote presentation was from Karen Brennan who is the Education Lead for Scratch at MIT.
Karen talked about the history of Scratch and the thinking behind how it was developed over time. She also showed some of the scratch games that have been up-loaded to the community. Scratch has been around for 3 years now and over 1 million games have been up-loaded (mainly by children) to the on-line community. Currently, approximately one Scratch game every minute gets uploaded to the Scratch Community. Some of the games really are fantastic and incredibly complicated.
Brennan also demonstrated the Scratch PicoBoard – this is a great bit of kit which really should be being used more in Scottish schools (I must dig mine out or remember who I lent it too). We also got a demo of Lego WeDo – I was really impressed the first time that I saw this when Brian Clark demonstrated it back at the Games Based Learning Conference in London (#GBL10) at the Teachmeet in the evening. I have embedded the video below:
The basic idea is that you can use the WeDo Lego kit to build a controller to use in your Scratch game. We now have 30 of these kits out in schools across Scotland and I’m really looking forward to seeing that the results of this project sometime before Christmas this year. The one that I am particularly excited about is the one that will combine Scratch, Lego WeDo and 3D printing technology where groups of children will design their own ergonomic controllers that they can use to navigate the games that they have created.
Anyway, I digress. During her presentation Karen also reminded me about ScratchED the on-line community for educators using Scratch in education and also World Scratch Day. A day where education institutes from around the world go on-line to create, develop and collaborate on scratch projects. I think we will do our best at the Learning and Teaching Scotland Consolarium to promote this a bit more next year – it would be good to have loads of Scottish schools involved.
Finally, the other bit of news is that Scratch is coming to the browser in about 18 months time. MIT will also be making a downloadable version available as well. But the browser based version of Scratch (Scratch 2.0) will be absolutely fantastic!
In short, a great and insightful presenation.