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]