The importance of programming languages is increasing rapidly as the application area of computer systems has been spreading to every single part of our lives. It is predicted that at least one programming language should be known in order to develop new things in any field for the foreseeable future. Therefore, kids who start learning to code at an early age play a leading and active role in the future field they want to focus on, by improving their technology literacy. If you want to prepare your child to be a full and active participant in tomorrow’s society, but not really sure where to start, don't worry. Scratch programming language is a great start for that!
Scratch is a block-based visual programming language developed by the MIT Media Lab for children ages 8 to 16. It is inspired by the program called Logo, designed by mathematician and computer scientist Seymour Papert, who was a founding faculty member of the same laboratory. The graphical user interface of Scratch programming helps kids to understand coding by simplifying the process that might seem complicated and incomprehensible for them at first. They learn the basic logic of coding in a gamified way by creating various games, animations, and interactive stories through the program.
Scratch is not only a simple programming language but also an online community. Kids can share the projects they have developed with other users from their personal accounts, comment on one another's projects, and even reproduce them by making arrangements on each other's projects. Thus, Scratch provides kids the opportunity to learn and create interactively and collectively.ScratchJr, the fully visualized version of Scratch for younger ages 5 to 7, is also available.
The working principle of Scratch is just like LEGO bricks. By placing one visual block within the other, you can issue a command. To issue a proper command, you have to place blocks in the right order.
When you start the Scratch, first you will see the cat image that is in their logo. The cat image, which you can change later as you wish, is the default sprite of Scratch programming. Sprites are the core component of Scratch that we write to programs for. By coding blocks, we program the sprites. In this respect, sprites correspond to the objects in any software.
There are blocks in different colors and each color has a different function. For instance, you can move sprites with blue blocks, change their appearance with purple ones, and make them talk with pink ones. Since blocks fit into each other like puzzle pieces, the result is affected by the ordering of the blocks.
Thanks to its flexible setting, Scratch allows kids to try many different combinations within the program. Since kids do not have to follow a fixed plan, they can make experimental studies by pushing the limits of their imagination. They can create projects with many different concepts, from platform games to puzzles, or animations to interactive stories. By viewing HUB21's Scratch course content, you can gain more insight into the variety of projects.
Another significant feature of Scratch programming is that it encourages kids to learn collectively and collaboratively by the remix option. As we mentioned, Scratch allows projects to be shared with other users. There is a panel where you can see the block sequence of shared projects, that is, the coding list. In this way, you can analyze how a project is created and if you want, you can make a collage work by changing the existing coding. Thus, children are constantly influenced by each other's experiences or works and nurture their creativity.
Scratch programming develops the problem-solving skills of kids by teaching them how to code, collaborative working skills by interacting with their peers, and creative skills by enabling them to produce their projects. The result of a case study conducted on a group of 84 fifth-grade students, also supports this argument. In the study, it is observed that the creative thinking skills of the students, who applied the mind mapping method of Scratch, are improved.
Kids find an opportunity to express themselves through new technologies by being introduced to coding at an early age. By creating projects, they learn how to be an active producer of technology rather than just a passive consumer of it.
In a broad sense, gaining an awareness of producing something by themselves, enables them to grow up as self-confident individuals who have a positive contribution to society in the future. Therefore, learning to code prepares children not only to software and technology fields but also to adapt and integrate easily into the world of tomorrow by being active members of society.