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Lifelong Kindergarten Group (MIT)
This is a great program. And a fun program. Scratch targets kids much as Alan Kay's early (and later) work.
Scratch is something like a GUI-based BASIC - with lots of pre-prepared modules to put together fun programs.
Scratch teaches important principles of programming - loops, branching, and so forth. And it's a lot of fun.
Scratch runs on Linux, Mac OS X 10.4 or better for both i386 and PPC, and Windows. It takes about 50 MB on disk as it comes with so many starter projects and other resources. The actual binary is less than 1 MB.
Scratch is non-intrusive and non-abusive - all it does is create a subdirectory to ~/Documents to store your projects.
Projects can be run either within the IDE or in kiosk mode.
Following is the basic Scratch IDE layout.
The leftmost pane holds the tools you use to create applications; the next pane has the code you've included in your application; the final (rightmost) pane has the output window and other assorted tools. You click the green flag to start the application and the red stop sign to stop it.
Hovering over modules in the middle and ctrl(⌃)-clicking reveals help bubbles that explain how the code works. The Lifelong Kindergarten Group currently have over 1,000,000 projects shared by Scratch users worldwide.
Scratch is a great tool to introduce children to computer science. Google App Inventor builds on the idea. Unfortunate then that Steve Jobs decided to ban Scratch from the Apple App Store.
'We're disappointed that Apple decided not to allow a Scratch player on the iPhone or iPad (as part of Apple's policy against apps that interpret or execute code).'
'There is nothing more important than empowering the next generation to design, create, and express themselves with new media technologies. That's the idea behind Scratch. Kids around the world are using Scratch to program their own interactive stories, games, animations, and simulations with Scratch - and sharing their creations with one another online. In the process, kids learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.'
Amanda Hickman comments at the PBS story.
'This definitely gets to the question of whether the new Internet is a place where we're all creating content or a place where we go to consume it. I don't have to tell you that I think the iPad is very much about locking us into the latter and I'm not loving it.'
A properly rewritten Scratch would be perfect for the iPad and could be really instrumental in educating future generations; in the meantime, you can download the Mac OS X version and have some fun.
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