Scratch! Open source programming for kids

Scratch Window I spent about 2 hours last night playing around with a new programming language called Scratch, which was designed for kids. You snap together programs from logical building blocks that you can drag over from a programming palette. There’s also a “stage” where the sprites you are programming can move around. In a matter of about 10 minutes a bright kid can have a functional program up and running. It reminds me a bit of Logo, but honestly, this is much much better.

Scratch is an incredibly powerful teaching tool, but that isn’t the coolest thing about it. The absolute coolest thing is that the designers have made it incredibly easy to share the programs with other users on the web site. Kids can preview (as Java applets) the programs other kids have written, and then download and tweak the code for those programs. Think of it as sourceforge for the pre-teen set. The programming environment itself is cool, but the ease of sharing the code, and the default assumption that the kids will want to share their code is revolutionary.

They’ve even got plans for a hardware sensor board that can be accessed directly from the Scratch window. There are currently Mac and Windows versions and a Linux version in the works. I hope the developers can be convinced to release the code to the Scratch application itself!

Scratch is simply fun to play with. And my kids are going to have a very cool tool to learn basic programming.

[tags]software, fun, education, programming[/tags]

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10 Responses to Scratch! Open source programming for kids

  1. Tom Hoffman says:

    The developers promised to release the code when they took $2,000,000 from the NSF.

    http://www.eschoolnews.com/eti/2007/03/001643.php

    We have a right to do more than hope they release it.

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  2. ERICH says:

    After reading this article and the one posted by Tom Hoffman it would be disappointing if the Scratch project does not get the ball rolling on getting the source code available. I currently teach High School and teach technology course and it would be an interesting project looking at this code in a few of my classes. I have been thrilled with a lot of the open source stuff available for Linux but it would be nice to work with this on a windows platform. The Scratch site is quite amazing with some of the games that have been made using this software. I hope to hear a lot more of this in the future.

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  3. pimpim says:

    Oh this is what I’ve been waiting for! I’ve been playing logo on the MSX in my youth, moving the little turtle around frantically. It seems like the idea of a simple programming language for kids then disappeared (I played a lot with HyperCard for the Mac, but that wasn’t meant for kids), but with programs like this around, programming can be fun for kids again!

    Just as realizing that milk doesn’t come from the factory, kids should know that a computer program can be made by anyone (well, sort of), not only by the Redmond clan.

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  4. shanuka says:

    i got software it is norton gost.thure this program we ac create setup file for our own program.

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  5. Jody says:

    Interesting comments regarding the source code.
    Was it ever released? I noticed on the Scratch website (from MIT) that it Scratch is licensed using an MIT license. Does anyone have any info about is unique license and whether source code sharing is required?

    Regardless I plan on using this program for teaching computers to children.

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  6. Linkbuncher says:

    were can i donwload this please reply.what is the cost or is it free.i am highlu interested in this.Looks a fun way in which my kids can learn programming.Also the best part is that it is open source.if anyone of you has used then please give a review and more info about this here.

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  7. Joe Anderson says:

    The eschoolnews link above seems to have disappeared.

    Here’s the most recent copy, from Sept 2007, out of the Internet Archive via the Coral cache system:

    http://web.archive.org.nyud.net/web/20070917201603/http://www.eschoolnews.com/eti/2007/03/001643.php

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  8. Pingback: Scratch | Aonani's Web 2.0 Tool Blog

  9. emailer someone says:

    http://info.scratch.mit.edu/Source_Code

    a project with scratch and arduino- also interested in seeing source code, as that is a requirement of using the scratch code….

    http://seaside.citilab.eu/scratch/arduino

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  10. Sean McManus says:

    Just came across your post and thought I’d say that it’s well worth checking out Scratch 2.0, the new online version if you haven’t already. It includes social sharing and collaboration features and makes it easier than ever before for people to learn from each others’ code. It also includes a feature to embed the Scratch projects as Flash in webpages, which makes it easier to share off-site too. I’ve just finished writing a book about Scratch (Scratch Programming in Easy Steps), so you can find some Scratch 2.0 examples and other stuff at my website.

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