Hey, kids! Instead of just playing games, try programming your own!
Hi, everyone. This is the TECH PARK founder, Sasakumi
I made an (overly) enthusiastic Facebook post last Thursday saying that I’d start introducing all of the activities for our upcoming Summer School. Well, the weekend’s already over and here we are in a new week... Sorry. At this pace, can I really finish explaining the activities before Summer School starts? I’ll do my best!
Today I’ll write about programming activities using Scratch for our upper-grade students.
I love video games and I started trying to make all sorts of things once I came across programming as a 5th grader. Over the years, as I learned about all the things computers can do, I started making things that I thought people might want—and making things that I wanted—and ended up where I am today (don’t ask me how old I am).
Looking back now, I wonder where I could have ended up if there was something like Scratch when I started liking computers! I could have probably learned to make lots more things! To be honest, I’m really jealous of people who get to use Scratch now!
Scratch does a great job representing the world of programming that we as engineers use in a visual manner with simple operations. You can have fun learning the basics of programming from the first day, even without any prior experience. Just like Viscuit, which I explained about on Facebook, we refer to Scratch as a visual programming language.
Computers basically can’t do anything unless given commands. Even if you think, “Move! Do this now!”, a computer won’t actually do anything. You can pay money or try giving it food, but it still won’t do anything. It always needs command statements. It will just sit there until it’s given commands—it won’t get hungry, it won’t eat, it won’t poop, it won’t do anything!
That’s why us engineer clack away at our keyboards writing code (command statements to tell the computer what to do). This action is called coding, and it’s an important part of programming. Two kinds of commands that you’ll always, without fail, run into within coding are “conditions” and “loops”.
For example, take a look at the following commands (Ruby):
if [conditional statement] then
[Do thing while the condition is true]
You’ll see this kind of conditional command all the time. Normally, this is how we write code as engineers: clacking away at our keyboards writing commands while thinking about all sorts of algorithms.
But with Scratch, you don’t need to write out all of the commands from, well, scratch. Instead, you can connect LEGO brick-like pieces together to quickly build series of commands into programs. This is all done using a mouse, and then you can also change various parameters (values).
*The blue part is the [conditional statement] and the purple parts is the [Do thing while the condition is true].
Scratch is designed to make it easier to organize your thoughts when you’re combining blocks compared to past programming languages. The gateway to enter the world of programming has gotten a lot bigger and easier to enter! With Scratch, you can use computers to give shape to the ideas in your head in all kinds of interesting and wonderful ways.
You’ll even be able to work towards using algorithms (methods and processes to solve problems) on your own to create more complicated games. This skill of being able to create algorithms is indispensable to programming.
You can try playing a popular game made in Scratch at the URL below:
Of course, younger kids (and moms and dads) can also use Scratch to enjoy getting into programming. I wonder how many more games and art we engineers could have created if we’d had Scratch when we were kids!
You can read more about Scratch at the following URL:
So, today I briefly introduced Scratch, which is used in programming activities for upper-grade students at TECH PARK.
I recommend playing with Scratch when you’ve got free time and are wondering what to do. Your parents probably get mad at you for playing video games sometimes, right? But here’s the trick: If you make the games yourself, they’ll be proud of you instead! (Probably.)
We hope you’ll come to Summer School at TECH PARK and try making all kinds of games and things with Scratch!
Summer School registration will close this Friday, but there are still a few days with openings left. Feel free to contact us or schedule a personal info session. We’re happy to answer any questions about Summer School, the after school programs, computers, child raising, or many other things.
All of the staff and I are looking forward to meeting you!