Scratch: My New Favourite Language for the Littlest Hackers

This past weekend, I spent some time with the fine folks of the LAMakerspace, helping (4-11)-year-olds learn MIT’s Scratch.

Photos courtesy of the LAMakerspace

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I really dig programming, and there’s little I enjoy more than sharing how awesome it is with others. So, of course, I had a great time helping the LAMakerspace teach Scratch to these little nerds-in-training. But what struck me as particularly fantastic about this event was how such a young audience was so thoroughly captivated for so long. If you’ve ever worked with young children, you understand that they are not particularly fond of sitting still and concentrating. These kids with zero programming experience all sat around a table together and created their own unique stories and games with Scratch. And they really were unique– no two projects were anything alike. Kids created photo montages, fictional stories, musical instruments, cartoons, and games.

And at the end, Luz called each of the kids up to show their project to the class and explain the code beneath it. Each kid had used at least one crazy line of code that the others hadn’t, so every project was a (hilarious) learning experience. The kids loved it.

You know why I think it was such a hit? The focus wasn’t programming. The focus was creative design. Programming was simply the tool to get the job done. This is something that I feel very many organizations miss when planning an educational event centered around tech.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
РAntoine de Saint Exup̩ry

This is how you inspire a love of programming and technology.