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Press Release 09-235

Learning Computer Science From Scratch

An innovative new computer programming language introduces kids to the possibilities of computing

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Photo of middle school children working at a computer.

Students using Scratch, a new programming language developed by Mitchel Resnick and his colleagues at the MIT Media Lab, with support from the National Science Foundation. Scratch is focused on getting young people excited about computer science. The core audience of Scratch is children ages eight to 16, but it has something for everyone. In Scratch, coding is done with graphical blocks, not with syntax and those semicolons. A student writes code by snapping together blocks, much like LEGO bricks or pieces of a puzzle. Additionally, the blocks are designed to fit only in ways that make syntactic sense. This eliminates the dreaded syntax errors that often frustrate and discourage young computer programmers. To create a program, students drag-and-drop the blocks to create procedures.

Credit: Grace Chui


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Photo of students using Scratch, an MIT-created programming language for children.

Compared to traditional computer programming, Scratch is an easy language to learn and is readily shared with other programmers. Since its launch, there have been almost 800,000 projects uploaded to the Scratch website. Although the number of users and Scratch projects are impressive, the researchers have been most excited about the diversity of projects and the level of sharing and collaboration that exists within the Scratch community. The social aspect of the Scratch community is an important piece in attracting young people to computer programming. The online community has created expert Scratch programmers whose projects are followed by the rest of the community.

Credit: Grace Chui


Download the high-resolution JPG version of the image. (225 KB)

Use your mouse to right-click (Mac users may need to Ctrl-click) the link above and choose the option that will save the file or target to your computer.