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Learning Computer Science From Scratch

National Science Foundation (12/10/09) Cruikshank, Dana W.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researcher Mitchel Resnick and colleagues at the MIT Media Lab have enjoyed great success with Scratch, a computer programming language geared toward children ages eight to 16.  Scratch users write code by connecting graphical blocks together.  Concurrent with the launch of Scratch two years ago was the rollout of the Scratch Web site, where programmers can publish their Scratch projects online and share them with others.  Nearly 800,000 projects have been uploaded to the site since its launch, and the site has nurtured an online community that enables sharing and collaboration on Scratch projects.  Resnick’s motivation behind Scratch’s creation was to make programming fun for kids as part of an effort to get young people more interested in computer science as well as achieve fluency in digital technologies.  Resnick and his team believe Scratch is an important tool through which computer science concepts can be introduced to students.  The team is creating support materials and cooperating with educators on the best way to use Scratch in the classroom.  Resnick believes that digital fluency is becoming increasingly essential for many careers, including those that are outside of technology, such as the creative arts.  He notes, for example, that Scratch is being used in English courses as a tool to help produce book reports.


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