Scratch is a programming environment, based upon LOGO, which allows young programmers to easily create multimedia applications and simple games (Monroy-Hernández and Resnick 2008). Block programming eliminates the frustrations of syntax errors which afflict novices learning traditional computer programming languages. The Scratch environment allows the creation and control of graphical objects, known as sprites, which move around the screen and integration of graphics or photos and sound files to create multimedia applications.

Scratch is easily learnt by an adult in a couple of hours and children from the age of seven can be productive from the very first lesson. A typical lesson plan (Crook 2009) might require six sessions for a young programmer to learn the main programming concepts and begin creating their own games or multimedia projects.

Scratch applications are designed to be shared and the Scratch web site has thousands of applications which can be downloaded and remixed into new applications. Some applications that can be created by novice Scratch programmers are detailed below:

  • A simple game where the player controls a sprite chasing another sprite around the screen.
  • An animation with sprites representing the letters of the programmer’s name with each letter spinning or otherwise moving around the screen and playing a sound when clicked.
  • A quiz style application showing several pictures and a question which responds to the user clicking on the selected answer.
  • A multimedia presentation incorporating photographs with sound recordings providing explanations as the user clicks on each item.

Scratch programming involves several IT skills and creation of a typical application might involve:

  • Drawing a sprite within the Scratch application.
  • Importing a background picture from a photograph or a file created in another graphics application.
  • Recording a sound file or incorporating an MP3 file into the application. •Adding text with different fonts to an application.
  • Moving sprites around the screen with turtle graphics commands.
  • Manipulation and digital effects on graphics objects.

Scratch programming also involves an understanding of some of the principles of computer programming:

  • Creating a sequence of commands.
  • Using an IF conditional statement to determine a course of action.
  • Repeating a sequence of commands.
  • Moving a sprite around the screen and responding to the environment.
  • Responding to keyboard and other events.
  • Using variables in an application.
  • Using messages and broadcasts to control the application.
28/05/2024 07:39:40