Scratch 3.0: Not Just for Your Kids Anymore

This January, MIT had released their most recent iteration of Scratch 3.0. For those without young children, Scratch is a hugely successful platform for teaching children about computer science while encouraging creative play and exploration. Projects created can vary from animations to games and much more. The platform is web-based and comes packed full of assets for characters, background artwork, and music. You are also able to upload your own images and sounds with up to 50 MB allocated per project. Interaction with characters (called Sprites) occurs by dragging and dropping blocks of code in the proper sequence on the coding stage.

Scratch code stage
Sample code on the stage

With the new release, Scratch is now written in HTML5 (an upgrade from its previous Flash format) which means that Scratch projects are now mobile friendly! Other notable upgrades include the add-on blocks of text to speech and translation.

What Can You Create?

Having the ability to interact with projects on mobile devices, now opens this platform to young children and those with special needs that previously have been unable to play games or interact due to physical limitations when accessing a computer. Here are some ideas for what you may create:

  • Cause and Effect Interactive Experiences– you can customize the visual interactions with familiar images and objects. Experiences may also be supported by sounds and songs.
  • Follow Direction Games– Using the text to speech blocks, you may create interactive games asking students to follow one to multi-step directions. Oh yes, and you can keep score! Checkout this starter project as an example.
  • Visual Tracking Games– Using color detection blocks, simple to complex maze games are possible and endless. Other visual games include tracking a moving sprite to “catch” it.
  • Attention Games– Using the hide and show blocks, a teacher may create games where sprites appear and disappear in random patterns and locations.

The most powerful part is the ability to personalize games and experiences to make meaningful connections. And…. the learning curve is not too painful; even for adult noobs. Most projects can be “Remixed” which means that pre- built projects may be duplicated and then further edited or customized.

Scratch Can Also Be Switch Friendly

Makey Makey Layout

Scratch projects have the ability to listen for “Events” such as keyboard strokes. This functionality works beautifully with easy to use boards such as the Makey Makey. With limited experience and a few alligator clips, you can create a custom switch out of anything that conducts electricity.

Playground Express Board
Adafruit Circuit Playground Express

Feeling even more intrepid? Using an education board such as the Circuit Playground Express and some alligator clips you can customize which keystrokes to send or also trigger mouse navigation. This board can be programmed using another block based programming platform called Makecode.

Ways to Learn

Scratch Website Tutorials

The Scratch website comes with great self paced tutorials that walk you through their most basic blocks and how to complete some of the most frequently used types of projects. Visit their tutorial page here.

Books

There is no shortage of published and online books that walk you through basic to more complex projects. Here are a few popular ones:

And… YouTube. Of course!

In the Neighborhood? Come Learn Together!

zero day camp location

If you happen to be in the NYC area, we will be hosting a beginner Scratch for educators and parents open house. The open house will be held on Saturday 3/30/2018 from 2 – 4 pm at the Moonbase Zero shop located in Prospect Heights Brooklyn.

Visit this link to register or learn more

Mini Games with Bitsy

Bitsy logo

 

 

We’ve been having some one-off holiday camps this September and spend one of the days playing around with creating Bitsy games. Bitsy is an online game development platform created by Adam Le Doux. This platform is easy to learn and involves no coding experience. Campers are able to create stories and arrow navigation based games within a few hours. With pixel based rooms, avatars, items, and sprites, the product is lo-fi yet engaging.

Try it out… The editor can be found here: http://ledoux.io/bitsy/editor.html

We also created a two-pager quick guide which covers basic navigation and functionality: Bitsy How To

And… here are some games we started on…

Run Jump

The Quest

 

Creating an Automated House with the Microbit

cardboard doll house

This spring session we tried something a little different and hands on. Campers were on a mission to build their dream home and automate it using the Microbit. The focus was on providing a project based and camper led experience. Working in pairs, basic programming and physical computing concepts were introduced such as creating LED circuits, programming sounds for the doorbell, using a servo to make a fan and introduction to sensors as burglar alarms. The Microbit and blocky based programming IDE (pxt.microbit.org) served as a user-friendly platform for exploration. Continue reading “Creating an Automated House with the Microbit”

The Microbits Come to PS 93

a microbitZero Day Camp is happy to collaborate with PS 93 in Bed-Sty Brooklyn to present a 5 week after school CS introduction program using the Microbit. Physical computing is a great way to engage young learners and being to understand how computers and code can affect the world around them. The Microbit is a small computer which supports input connections using alligator clips and comes packed with multiple sensors. To learn more visit: microbit.org.

Continue reading “The Microbits Come to PS 93”

Tech2Learn: Bringing Technology Home

tech to learn iconAccess to hardware and internet are some of the more basic building blocks to developing CS skills. With these tools in hand, students can connect to experts and limitless resources. Many homes in our communities however, still do not have access to a computer or internet. Zero Day Camp is hoping to help close this gap with its newly founded Tech2Learn program.

Through the T2L program, we collect, refurbish, and provide hardware to our partner schools, who in turn provide the hardware to students, for home use. We also help connect students and families to available resources to free and low cost internet as well as other local resources for learning.

Zero Day Camp relies on donations from families, businesses, and other institutions in our community to make this work. To donate, please fill out the form available at this link.

It’s a Mad Lib Kind of Day

madlib iconThis week we worked with strings to create Thanksgiving Mad Libs. The starter project asks for a part of speech which is saved as a variable. Coders insert the variables into join strings blocks (aka concatenation). Check out the starter project here. You can also download the direction card here.

Fall 2016: Sessions 3 & 4

lamb drawingSession 3

This week, coders worked on creating music using Scratch beats and instruments. Three tasks were introduced and rotated:

  1. Recording sound and using pre-existing sounds
  2. Rhythm & beats
  3. Creating a song (Mary had a Little Lamb) with notes and using custom blocks for each measure. You can find a piano note/ number template at this link and the musical notes at this link.

Session 4

In week 4 we started working on new animations incorporating sound, movement, and costume changes. Story elements were discussed such as setting, characters, and story arc. Check out some of the shared projects at the Fall 2016 Studio.

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

drawing of Ada Lovelace October 11th is Ada Lovelace Day so let’s celebrate! Ada is known by some to be the first computer programmer, born in 1815.  She was an avid mathematician and theorized about computer programs that could be used for purposes beyond mathematics. Her “computer programs” came decades before the  first computer known as the “Analytical Engine” which Ada had a hand in developing along with Charles Babbage. To find out more about this special lady, check out this video.