Monday, May 18, 2009

Scratch Day 2009

This Saturday, I participated in Scratch Day 2009. This event was one of many events globally that looked at the logo based animation program created at MIT. The event I participated in, had three incredible speakers, a bevy of technology educators and a handful of very creative and technology savvy students.
The event began with Yasmin Kafai. She spoke about the history of Scratch, going as far back as the Logo Turtle invented by Seymour Papert. She showed the evolution of logo, of mindstorms and finally into scratch.
Scratch uses building blocks of different commands to animate sprites (characters) and backgrounds. With the use of the scratch site and the ease of sharing projects, the program not only allows students to create, to problem solve, to share, but it also inherently talks to students about the importance of digital citizenship.

After Yasmin, we had a Doctoral Student from Penn take us through the basics of Scratch. Quinn Burke, was well versed in scratch and took us around the Scratch environment, the tools and some of the basic How-To's. Quinn then took the students to another room and guided them in the building process.

The last of the three speakers was Mike Badger, the author of a Beginner's Guide to Scratch. Mike showed us how to create a tour of places (photos of places) with a walking tour guide (sprite). The combined use of sprite and background animation, along with speech files, and complex animation. This was by far the coolest use we had seen, but the combination of tools and techniques allowed me to see the far reaching applications for this in schools.

At the end of Scratch Day 2009, I was left motivated and excited to not only further my own learning about this versatile and simple to learn program, but I was also motivated to bring this to many of my students in both elementary school and middle school and see what can be created.