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Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Scratch is a free object-oriented software development kit (SDK) that allows children age 8-16 to create animations, interactive stories, games and music without needing to know a specific programming language. Scratch, which consists of a script, paint and sound editor, is maintained by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab and features an online community to encourage collaboration among young programmers.

Scratch has a zero-code interface, which means that users (who call themselves scratchers) don't have to write source code for the programs they create. Instead, they assemble component blocks that are actually units of code represented by different interconnecting shapes. Each block has a specific command and unique function and once the user has connected a series of blocks, he or she can click a green flag to run the script and see what the program does. This visual, building block approach to programming is similar to the way some other low-code/no-code (LCNC) development platforms work for the enterprise.

Scratch has proven to be a popular initiative with over 25,000,000 student projects created to date. The program, which is used in more than 150 different countries and is available in more than 40 languages, has replaced PowerPoint as the presentation software of choice in many schools. In addition to fostering coding literacy, the program is known for being a fun way to help students solve problems logically, work collaboratively and improve communication skills.

This was last updated in December 2017

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Hi Margaret: My biggest concern about all of these new techniques to make coders and junior IT explorers out of our youngsters is that this will only increase the amount of time spent doing "technology stuff" and further inhibit the ability or time to read books, learn about art, culture, courtesy and etiquette, and become wholesome human beings. Programs like Scratch, Logo and its derivatives are great with a huge dose of balance baked in.


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