Created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Scratch is a programming language using script that makes it easy to create interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art – and share your creations on the web with other “Scratchers.” As young people create and share Scratch projects, they learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively. Much like building with Legos, to create programs in Scratch, you simply snap graphical blocks together into stacks. Scratch offers a low floor (easy to get started), high ceiling (ability to create complex projects), and wide walls (support for a wide diversity of projects).
Scratch is a free downloadable open-source software kit that helps students become more fluent in digital technology. Teachers who wish to become familiar with Scratch can access MIT’s educator community, ScratchEd, which compiles a robust offering of resources, tutorials, lesson plans, and starter projects.
Keywords / Definitions
- Integrated Development Environment (IDE): Computer program that helps you write other programs
- Lifelong Kindergarten: Develops new technologies that, in the spirit of the blocks and fingerpaint of kindergarten,expand the range of what people can design, create, and learn
- Script: One or more blocks that describe the appearance, sounds, and behavior of a sprite, the stage, or variable of a project
Most people view computer programming as a tedious, specialized activity, accessible only to those with advanced technical training. And, indeed, traditional programming languages like Java and C++ are very difficult for most people to learn. Scratch aims to change that.
Scratch introduces basic computational concepts such as iteration, conditionals, variables, data types, events, and processes. When students learn Scratch, they also develop many critical 21st century learning skills: thinking creatively, communicating clearly, analyzing systematically, collaborating effectively, designing iteratively, learning continuously.
Scratch can be used in many different settings: schools, museums, community centers, and homes. It is intended for 8- to 16-year-olds, but younger children can work on Scratch projects with their parents or older siblings, and college students use Scratch in some introductory computer science classes.