Scratch and Enchanting Resources

These resources accompany my talks at the 2013 ATLE Convergence conference in Edmonton — The Surface of Scratch and Hastening The End of Civilization As We Know It.

Scratch Resources

  • Scratch is a free, introductory programming language for kids eight and up. Scratch 2.0 runs in a Flash-enabled web-browser; previous versions run natively on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and the Raspberry Pi.
  • ScratchEd, a site for educators using Scratch
  • Scratch Curriculum – 20 1 hour lessons to teach Scratch to a class
  • Scratch: Programming For All – article explaining the big ideas behind Scratch.

Scratch Mods

Snap! (formerly “Build Your Own Blocks”)

  • Snap!, an advanced variation of Scratch (which works on the iPad, by the way)
    See the Beauty and Joy of Computing, a computer science curriculum developed at Berkely, using Snap!

Enchanting

  • Enchanting is a Scratch mod for programming LEGO Mindstorms NXT robots.

Be sure to look at the How do I use it? section, to see the Enchanting Cards, videos, or try out the Monash University BlockBooks Series to learn to use it.

In the Real World

You can have even more fun with a MaKey MaKey.
Scratch 1.4 works with the PicoBoard, and LEGO WeDo Robots.

Enchanting, of course, works with LEGO Mindstorms NXT robots, and, for power users, it can also talk to Scratch (v1.4) programs!

Get Your Feet Wet

With Scratch

  • Make an interactive Christmas card following the hour of code instructions (an initiative started by code.org).
  • Start a new Scratch project and follow the tips.
  • Find some existing Scratch projects (like these) and click on ‘see inside’. (If you like, modify the code, or create a remix of it!)
  • Especially if you are using an older version of Scratch, do try the Scratch Cards.
  • Search the site for different things of interest, and check out the fora.
  • Do note that most of the documentation for Scratch is for version 1.4, not the new 2.0 version.
  • 40 Math Shapes Challenges
  • Additional challenges and even more.

With Enchanting

Please note that not all programs work on all robots. (You can hardly tell a driving robot to move its legs, or ask a robot without a colour sensor what colour it sees!) Also, many that do need to be adapted or reconfigured. For instance, if you have an ultrasonic sensor on port 4, and it expects one on port 1, you need to change where the program thinks the sensor is plugged in, or you need to change where the sensor is actually plugged in on the physical robot, so that the two match.

  • Enchanting Cards are a great way to get started. They have a simple program and indicate what it’ll do. Try them out on your robot!
  • Enchanting includes several sample programs. Choose File -> Open and click on “Examples” to try them out.
  • Try out this step-by-step interactive book with videos on Enchanting from Monash University in Australia. [Note that the iBook takes a long time to download.]
  • These are several video tutorials, some for older versions, on the Enchanting site.
  • (You could also try to modify existing Scratch projects and try to run them on the robots).

More Robotics Resources

Please see my previous article, Robotics Resources . Note that “local” means near Cardston (or in the extended Lethbridge area).

Alberta-specific resources

Even More Resources

More Things To Mention

Scratch is used in Universities! For example, they use it at the University of Lethbridge, the University of Alberta, Harvard (Scratch for Budding Computer Scientists), Berkely (Beauty and Joy of Computing), and elsewhere.

Some universities are accepting a high school computer science course as a science prerequisite (on par with biology, chemistry, or physics), and I believe some are thinking of accepting knowledge of a computer programming as knowledge of a second language.

Posted by Clinton Blackmore - Monday November 18, 2013.
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