Scratch is a graphical programming environment designed to teach coding to children and those who are new to the world of computer science: here’s how it works.
The average age at which a person starts programming has decreased more and more. It’s not difficult to find 12-13-year-olds who can develop a video game or animation without asking their parents for help. This is thanks to programming languages that have become increasingly easier to learn. An example is Scratch, a graphical block programming environment: to make an animation you don’t need to know even a line of code: instructions (scripts) are present inside colored blocks that users just have to assemble between them.
Scratch is a programming language designed for children aged between 8 and 16 years, but also for those who have never coded in their lives. It can be taught to children from primary school onwards, so as to give them the opportunity to develop logic and reasoning. It is no coincidence that Scratch was created by the Lifelong Kindergarten group of the MIT Media Lab, led by Mitchel Resnick. Scratch was created to give everyone (children, young people, adults) the chance to take their first steps in the world of programming.
The programming language allows you to create very simple projects such as colorful animations, but also very elaborate content such as video games or videos. Scratch is an open-source programming language and every day new blocks (scripts) are added that allow you to improve your projects. Here is how it works and how to use Scratch to create colorful animations and to teach programming to children.
Scratch is a graphical programming language with an object-oriented approach, i.e. you don’t need to know strings of code to realize your projects, but just assemble the various colored blocks inside the editor. The environment was created to give children the opportunity to enter the world of coding and create their first projects, such as graphic animations and interactive stories.
Scratch is an open-source programming language and anyone can develop new blocks and add functionality. The programming environment is available both online and offline, allowing the user to work on their project at any time.
To create your first project with Scratch you need to sign up on the platform so you can save the content you created. Registration to Scratch is free and can be done directly on the website of the programming language. Following the wizard, you will complete the registration process in less than five minutes.
Once you have created your account, you can use Scratch online directly from your computer’s browser. The Scratch editor is very simple to use and allows you to create an interactive animation or story in no time. The editor is divided into three parts: on the left we have the characters to insert in our project (called Sprites), in the central column there are colored blocks, ie sounds, backgrounds and any other element that can customize your animation, while on the right we have to insert commands that make move their sprites (the protagonists of the story).
Scratch allows you to customize the project according to your needs: you can add colored backgrounds from the memory of your computer, or record sounds with the microphone and use them to let the characters of our animation speak. The only limit is the user’s imagination.
The programming environment can also be used offline by downloading the appropriate program from the Scratch website. However, you must also install Adobe AIR 20, otherwise Scratch will not work perfectly. There is also an application (Scratch Jr) for the tablet dedicated to children between the ages of 5 and 7 years. In this case, the programming language is even more simplified and allows you to create stories with simple touches on the screen.
The success of Scratch is linked to the ease of use and the ability to create many different things in a few minutes. Scratch is especially designed to create simple projects, such as a colorful animation or a short video. Thanks to the work of the community, however, over time the programming language has been enriched with new blocks and features, also allowing you to develop applications. Scratch has now become a complete programming language that can be used for any type of project.
The advantages of Scratch
“Imagine, program, share.” This is the motto of the Scratch community, one of the most active in the world of programming. The success of the coding environment is linked to the ease with which you can find a solution to your problems: every day new projects are added on the platform from which you can start to develop your own graphics animation. Moreover, being an operating system designed for children, it is very simple to use: it only takes a few minutes to become familiar with the tools in the editor.
In many parts of the world, Scratch has been a part of education since primary school. Learning a programming language not only allows children to develop logic, but also to unleash their creativity. And learning new things becomes even more fun. Especially if you can do it by playing with your children. The many projects on Scratch are proof of the success of the children’s programming language in recent years.