Scratch for Kids

A lot of money has been spent on the infrastructure for ICT in education and most schools in the UK have a computer lab and a computer and whiteboard in each classroom. Much of the current practise and ICT curriculum is based upon introducing primary school children to computing skills that they might require a decade later when they start work. There seems to be too much focus on basic ICT skills such as word processing, spreadsheet and database use, sending emails, using search engines and so forth. Although turtle graphics, robotics, and simulations are in the curriculum, they are often taught with simplified and specialised applications that match only the minimum requirements for the curriculum.

Scratch empowers children to control the computer and create their own applications rather than use the computer in a passive manner. Instead of running a simple application and pressing a button on the screen, the children learn to program and create their own applications. Turtle graphics can be taught as it was meant to be taught, with pupils using their own creativity and imagination to create much more complex shapes that can be done with a simple robot used for a couple of sessions. The experience of creating their own shapes will construct their own understanding of geometry which will help reinforce learning as they are introduced more formally to the subject during mathematics lessons.

Creativity and originality is core to the process of designing and creating a computer application. Students can be given the same application to create but each will employ different techniques to create the final application. Simply allowing children to originate the graphics for a project ensures originality and ownership of the project even if the programming is constant.

Pupils often work in small teams when creating applications and communicate with each other and the teacher when they have discovered a novel technique that helps them build the desired application. The process of communicating programming issues with their team members and classmates can build up confidence and communication skills that apply to all aspects of their schooling.

Creating a finished application involves many skills used by professional computer programmers, games designers, and multimedia producers, and the children learn the process of moving from the requirements of a desired application, though a design phase, to the engineering and testing of the finished application. The completed application can be uploaded to a web server to create a showcase for parents and other children to view, again building up the confidence of the programmers.

Scratch projects are designed to be shared and programmers can easily take an existing application and modify and improve on it. The understanding and communication skills involved building on the work originated by another child is another great communication skill.

25/04/2024 16:16:22