Kids - Learn to Program with FREE Scratch software from MIT
Free educational product
Learn to use Scratch - Lesson 1
Scratch Lesson Part 2
Scratch Lesson Part 3
Learn Logic and Programming the Fun Way
When I was in high school, back in the early 80s, personal computers were just becoming available to the average person. The school still managed report cards using punch out cards feed into a huge mainframe. The only programming we were exposed to was BASIC on Apple II computers. Today's kids can learn programming as soon as first grade depending on their natural ability using a simple, easy to use programming "language" called Scratch.
How often do you have access to FREE quality educational products for public schools, after school programs, library clubs or home schooling? Scratch is a free programming environment available for download from the Scratch website "http://scratch.mit.edu/" It was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, with financial support from the National Science Foundation, Microsoft, Intel Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Google, Iomega and MIT Media Lab research consortia. Scratch was paid for with tax payer money via support by the National Science Foundation and private donations so its free for all to use.
The beauty of Scratch is that you build your program using Scratch program modules that fit together like construction toys i.e. Legos. There is no syntax error to trip you up. Back in the day programming in BASIC on the Apple II, I remember many a frustrating hour spent trying to figure out what period or other character I place in the wrong spot that made my program crash. This doesn't happen in Scratch. The blocks only fit together where they are suppose to and you can visually see your program. The blocks are also color coordinated so you can quickly find the right blocks you need.
With all of the simplicity of building programs in Scratch one might assume that Scratch is a very simple programming language but this is not the case. Some people have painstakenly made extremely complex programs such as 3D Cad programs using Scratch. That said, Scratch is mainly used by kids to make cartoons, movies and simple games all the while learning very valuable lessons in logic.
About the Author
Edward M. Fielding has been teaching or rather mentoring kids in technology such as Scratch and Robotics for the past serveral years in after school programs in Maine and New Hampshire. He currently offers a series of classes at the AVA Gallery Arts Center in Lebanon, NH.