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Scratch Lowers Resistance to Programming

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Scratch, created by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT's) Media Lab, is a programming environment for creating interactive animations, annotated stories, slideshows, prototypes, and games.

Scratch's simple design enables children as young as eight years old to build their own animations. Creating programs in Scratch begins by dropping "sprites" onto a canvas. Actions can be attached to the sprites in a sequence to make them move, change color, make sounds, or interact with other objects on the canvas.

The software has been available since 2007, but MIT released a new version in February. Scratch is now preloaded onto all XO laptops sold by the One Laptop Per Child project.

Scratch also is interoperable with a external sensor kit called PicoBoard, a circuitboard that includes a microcontroller, a button, a slider, a light sensor, a microphone, and four ports for measuring the resistance of circuits. PicoBoard connects to a computer through a USB cable. A sprite can be made to grow or shrink based on the electrical resistance of a circuit connected to one of the PicoBoard's ports, which can be used to test the resistance of different objects as a learning exercise.

"Our design philosophy is, don't design something for kids that you don't also find engaging and interesting," says Scratch developer Jay Silver.

From Wired News

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