Saturday, November 22, 2014

Scratch as a Social Community

   The Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget theorized that the cognitive development of children goes through four stages: the sensorimotor, the preoperational, the concrete operational, and the formal operational stage. Piaget’s work led to the theory of knowledge called constructivism. The essence of constructivism is that although information, facts, etc. can be transferred from teacher to student, knowledge has to be constructed by the student.

   Seymour Papert, the creator of Logo, the first programming language for kids, took the construction idea, tied it to making things, and called it constructionism.
   As Edith Ackermann says, “Piaget’s constructivism offers a window into what children are interested in, and able to achieve, at different stages of their development.” She goes on to say, “Papert’s constructionism, in contrast, focuses more on the art of learning, or ‘learning to learn’, and on the significance of making things in learning.”

    Logo, through the work of Mitchel Resnick and his group at MIT, has evolved to Scratch.

    Dr. Resnick explains the three design criteria used to build Scratch, “Learning lessons from Papert’s experiences of Logo, we’ve designed Scratch to move beyond Logo along three dimensions, making programming more tinkerable, more meaningful, and more social.”

    He goes on to describe the social side of Scratch, “Our development of the Scratch programming language has been tightly coupled with development of the Scratch Website and online community. For Scratch to succeed, we feel the language needs to be linked to a community where people can support, collaborate, and critique one another and build on one another’s work.”

    That Scratch is a success as a social constructionism community is reflected in its numbers.

    As of November 21, 2014, these are the Scratch statistics.

   Educators and parents interested in students building their knowledge should take a serious look at Scratch at 

and join the community.

 Ackermann, Edith K. (2001)
Piaget’s Constructivism, Papert’s Constructionism: What’s the difference?
Future of Learning Group
MIT Media Laboratory

Resnick, Mitchel. (2012)
Educational Technology, vol. 52, no. 4, pp. 42-46.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Line-following Robot in Scratch

   I recently received a comment in my Scratch Messages box from VauHaEs, a Scratcher in Germany. He liked and complimented one of my shared projects (online at the Scratch web site) so I clicked on his name to view his profile. There, I was able to view all of the projects he had uploaded to the Scratch web site and I was immediately intrigued by his line-robot project
   Below is a screenshot of line_robot in action. When the green flag is clicked, an animated robot with two long, stiff arms tracks along the yellow line.
   In line­_robot, both the robot and its control are implemented in software, and the software is FREE!  I think this might be important to those that would like to ‘get into robots’ but can’t afford the $200+ cost of a Lego Mindstorms® kit.
   I've written a short description of the code VauHaEs wrote for this project. I remixed his project to simply the coding.
  You can view and download my remix at this link.
   You can view and download his original project at this link.
   You can request a free PDF of the description of his code by sending an email to

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A List of Great Resources that Support Scratch

   I recently met with a group of K-12 educators interested in banding together to support the current usage of Scratch in classrooms and to develop strategies as to how to expand the number of teachers that will introduce Scratch to their students. An agenda item asked that everyone report on the Scratch resources they knew were available on the web so that a list could be compiled, distributed, and kept current.
   What follows is the list generated from our first meeting. As new resources are discovered, I will update the list.

Scratch Resources You May or May Not Know About

(1) Scratch MIT -

(2) Scratchjr MIT -
     Available as a free iPad APP at the App Store
     Scratchjr available as Web Browser in 2015

(3)  Android - (read the About Us)

(4) Scratch Education - Now at Harvard - Web Site Called Creative Computing
   Free Downloads: (1) Scratch Educators Guide (2) Scratch Student Workbook
   (3) Both the Guide and Workbook in editable PowerPoint format.

(5) Computational Thinking with Scratch Site
   What is computational thinking?
   How do I assess the development of CT?
   How do I support the development of CT?

(6) One Hour of Coding with Scratch - December 8-14, 2014

(7) Raspberry Pi ­- a $35 computer (cannibalize old keyboards, monitors, etc.)
     Scratch 1.4 is already loaded into the module but so are web browsers for
     accessing Scratch 2.0.

(8)  Google’s Scratch-based site.

(9) Report of a Workshop on The Scope and Nature of Computational Thinking
         Committee for the Workshops on Computational Thinking
            Computer Science and Telecommunications Board
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

(10) This is a Scratch-based curriculum designed for grades eight and up.
Exploring Computer Science

(11)  Exploring Computer Science curriculum and Principled Assessment of Computational Thinking

(12) Computer Science Unplugged
Designed for classrooms that do have computers or access to computers. There are a lot of great ideas that would make great Scratch programming projects.