Scratch coding is defined as the process of writing and running programs using Scratch, a free programming language and code editor that helps young learners understand coding logic using blocks and visual aids. This article defines the concept of Scratch coding and its uses in computer science and programming.
Scratch coding is the process of writing and running programs using Scratch, a free programming language and code editor that helps young learners understand coding logic using blocks and visual aids.Â
Here are the main features of Scratch:
- Teaches children how to write code in a visually eloquent manner.Â
- Offers block-based coding, allowing learners to arrange pre-written instructions to generate actions.Â
- Helps users work together, think imaginatively, and analyze methodically.Â
- Allows them to create animations and graphics that can be shared after a project has been completed.Â
- Allows users to convert completed projects to HTML5, Android applications, Bundle (macOS), or EXE files using external tools.
- Enables students to blend animation, computer games, and other projects utilizing sounds and visuals.
- Has an online community that allows children to develop and exchange interactive multimedia such as tales, puzzles, and animations with individuals across the globe.Â
- Offers teachers the option to assign and exchange assignments with students, making it an excellent teaching platform, especially when it comes to remote learning.
- Great way to introduce kids to computer science and programming.
- Accessible in 70 languages across the world.Â
As of December 2022, over 67 million projects have been contributed to Scratch by more than 64 million users. At 38 million monthly users, Scratch is extremely popular today. However, it needs basic reading abilities, making it futile for children less than eight years old. The developers of Scratch were quick to realize this and launched ScratchJr in 2014.Â
ScratchJr offers a simpler approach to programming at a relatively young age without the ability to read or calculate. Used by more than ten million individuals across the globe, ScratchJr is meant for children aged 5 to 7 and is available for free on iOS, Android, and Chromebook.Â
Basics of codingÂ
Simply described, coding means training an item to behave. Likewise, whenever we, as teachers (coders), train computers (objects), they must obey. However, since the machine does not comprehend any natural speech, the directions must be supplied in the form of codes. This is what coding is.
In general, there are two types of coding:
- Block-based coding (examples include Scratch, code.org, Thunkable, etc.)Â
- Textual coding (examples include C, Java, Python, etc.)
Let’s understand block-based coding.
Block-based coding is the basic version of computer programming. It is an excellent method to teach the foundations of programming without sophisticated and convoluted text-based lines of code.
In this type of coding, learners utilize graphical units to build animations and puzzles. Powered by a visual interface, it lets them drag and drop a sequence of blocks. Each block contains a single line of code. Therefore, the user essentially creates software without the assistance of text. This allows them to rapidly comprehend the essential principles and logic of programming.
Because each block performs a separate function or command, you just need to arrange them in a certain sequence for the newly-created program to operate. The usage of blocks also facilitates the detection and correction of programming errors. The visual and participatory nature of block-based coding makes this process simpler and more effective.
The Scratch user dashboard is the region of the screen where the Scratch application is shown. The screen is split into many portions or panes. Each pane serves a distinct purpose, such as choosing blocks to write with, writing code, and seeing the results of your work.
A Scratch UI (comparable to an integrated development environment or IDE) is separated into three primary areas: a staging ground, block palettes, and a coding area. Additionally, users may generate their custom code blocks, which will display in â€œMy Blocks.â€ Scratch 3.0 (the latest version of Scratch) consists of three elements:Â
- Stage area: The stage area displays the outcomes â€” for example, animations or turtle graphics, in either a tiny or regular scale, with a full-screen option, while the bottom section lists all sprite thumbnails. The stage employs y and x coordinates, with 0,0 representing the center of the stage.
- Block palettes: The block palette contains all the instructions that may be dragged and dropped into the project’s code area. One can drag blocks of instructions via the block palettes into the coding area when a sprite is chosen at the lower half of the staging area.Â
- Code area: Code area is the area on the left side of the project editor where codes are assembled. It is meant for placing and arranging blocks as scripts which may be executed by clicking the green signal or tapping on the code itself. The user can choose a sprite character or move instructions from the palette into the coding area, allowing the sprite to perform the desired actions. For instance, a cat cartoon/animation may be programmed to take ten steps forward.
- Costumes tab: It enables users to alter the appearance of a sprite using a vector and bitmap editor to generate numerous effects, including animation.Â
- Sounds tab: It enables music and sound effects to be attached to a sprite. When designing sprites and backgrounds, users can manually draw their own sprite, select one from the collection, or upload an image.Â
- Paintbrush: It is employed to draw freehand shapes by dragging and dropping. When using the paintbrush tool, a user has to click on the paintbrush icon on the left-hand side of the drawing space in the center of the toolbar.Â
Scratch coding is a very simple form of coding that focuses on teaching event-based coding processes rather than the language directly. It integrates with various larger projects, like LEGO Mindstorms EV3 , BBC micro:bit, via various extensions, allowing additional possible outcomes from the programming platform.
Scratch coding blocks
In Scratch, blocks refer to the structures employed to build code. The blocks are connected upright like puzzle pieces, with every block category (cap, stack, reporters, boolean) having its form and a unique slot shape, thereby preventing syntax problems. Scripts are collections of linked blocks.
Blocks are often simpler to operate than text-based programming as they do not need memorization like written instructions and cannot result in syntax problems. Text-based coding is more versatile than block-based programming since the text may be altered without dragging additional blocks into the editor.
The ten types of blocks include Motion, Appearance, Sounds, Events, Controls, Sensors, Operators, Variables, Lists, and My Blocks. Some key block types are discussed below:
- Events: These yellow bricks have a unique form, with a protrusion at the top. These blocks are â€œstarting blocks,â€ meaning they must be placed at the beginning of each new code segment. They indicate when the script will be executed.
- Motion: These blue bricks enable your sprite’s movement, rotation, and gliding, to the tune of a specific number of degrees or steps.Â
- Looks: These purple pieces alter the visual look of your sprite. This includes color, size, thought bubbles, and other interesting effects.
- Loops: These orange-colored blocks are located in the â€œcontrolâ€ section. Similar to the Events blocks, these have a unique form. Loops allow continuous repetition of an effect.
- Sounds: This area enables you to include audio in your application. On the â€œsoundsâ€ tab, you can add your own sounds to each sprite. For instance, make your dog sprite growl or record some noises for it to â€œspeak.â€
Scratch blocks is a major development initiative for the future eras of graphical programming blocks built on a partnership between Google and MIT’s Scratch Team â€” strengthening Google’s Blockly technology and incorporating the Scratch Team’s expertise in creating imaginative teaching aids for children. Scratch blocks will offer a framework for creating vertical (text-based) or horizontal (icon-based) programming units.
There are many Scratch extensions that may be attached to the block area. One can select the blue icon on the right side of the usual block sections to pick an extension. Commonly-used Scratch coding extensions include:
- Music: This extension enables users to play MIDI notes on various instruments.
- Video sensing: Projects can communicate with a camera using this extension.
- Translate: Using the Translate plugin, text may be translated into various languages.
- Pen: The Pen add-on enables users to sketch on the stage using a pen.
- Text to speech: This allows text to be read aloud.
- The LEGO MINDSTORM EV3 extension: It permits Scratch projects to connect with LEGO MINDSTORM EV3 devices.
- The Micro:bit extension: It enables Scratch projects to communicate with micro:bit projects.
The main purpose of Scratch is to help young learners learn basic coding concepts without getting into the complexities of object-oriented programming or textual coding. Here are some benefits of coding with Scratch.
1. Improves analytical and problem-solving skills
As kids resolve and overcome different challenges during coding, Scratch helps them develop logical reasoning abilities and problem-solving skills.
2. Simplifies the learning curve in the world of coding
Among the most challenging elements of programming is it requires a lot of effort to be completely grasped. However, this is not the case with Scratch. Since the language was created with children in mind, it is easy to comprehend. Children do not need complex books, instructions, or lessons to understand how the language functions.
3. Provides entertainment and engagement along with learning
Scratch programming helps kids think creatively and express themselves freely. Moreover, the tasks they develop are fascinating and engaging, which makes learning enjoyable.
4. Offers an attractive user interface
Thanks to its visually attractive interface, Scratch coding piques your child’s interest in programming. It helps children visualize their code, making the experience even more enjoyable.
5. Teaches how hardware extensions can be interoperable with code
Scratch programming is excellent for children who enjoy practical activities. Many companies sell hardware kits compatible with Scratch, which may be used to construct fascinating projects. Makey-Makey or micro:bit, for instance, enable children to design and construct their own game controllers.
6. Reduces barriers of a coding career
Programming with Scratch is accessible to a majority of internet users. You can, therefore, offer your child coding lessons from the convenience of your own home with Scratch for kids. It sets them up for a successful career in software development without making the learning process arduous.Â
7. Explains programming logic visually
Children can continuously see what they’re creating and check the result of their activities. This helps them understand the reasoning underlying computer programs. Scratch’s logic expands on fundamental ideas like variable parameters, data types, collections, matrices, looping, and operators. When students go from the prevalent block-based programming to text-based programming, these abilities also transcend to other languages.
8. Bypasses the rules of syntax around traditional programming languages
Numerous programming languages require children to learn text commands and impose stringent constraints on their use. Scratch coding allows children to concentrate on the fun parts of programming, such as generating concepts for new programs, figuring out how to construct them, creating them, and discussing them with others.
To ensure that Scratch coding meets all of these needs, the team behind the software follows a set of principles called the four Ps of learning how to code â€“ projects, passion, peers, and play.Â
- People learn most effectively when they are actively engaged in project-based activities, such as generating ideas, developing models, making improvements, and producing finished products.
- When individuals concentrate on topics they are passionate about, they work harder and longer, remain resilient despite obstacles, and acquire more knowledge in the process.
- With socialization, learning thrives with individuals exchanging ideas, cooperating on initiatives, and expanding on their peers’ work.
- Learning requires playful exploration â€“ attempting new things, experimenting with material, pushing the limits, taking risks, and repeatedly iterating.
Getting started with Scratch coding
To begin coding with Scratch, visit the MIT website for Scratch and follow the steps below:Â
- Click the â€œcreateâ€ button to begin a new project.Â
- The coding units are located on the left side of the display.Â
- To start coding, tap and drag the pieces to the huge area in the middle.Â
- The letters and objects on scratch are known as â€œsprites.â€ You may add or remove an unlimited number of sprites.Â
- Tap on a sprite to generate code for that sprite.Â
- There are several entertaining sprites to choose from.Â
- To code, you may join chunks of code by dragging them from left to right.Â
- In addition to the backdrop, each sprite will be given its own code.
- These blocks can move, generate noises, and alter the color of sprites. And when combined, they produce a sequence of events that you can use to create a game, cartoons, and other projects.Â
- After coding your application, you may select a Green Flag to run it on Stage.Â
- Ensure that your project is stored under your account if you wish to save or share it.
- Scratch allows you to upload Scratch-created projects on its virtual live studio, CODE. You can also see projects posted by other programmers here and leave your comments.
If you are new to coding â€” no matter your age â€” Scratch is an excellent entry point. It demonstrates the use of if/then coding logic, which is the foundation for software development across all languages. Even if you don’t know the specific lexicon of a language, Scratch coding allows you to get started with its logical aspects without having to use a compiler to view the output. Ultimately, Scratch coding is plain fun â€” a gamified way to learn a valuable technical skill.Â
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