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★★★ Open House ★★★
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Expert Review as Expert
Scratch 2.0
© 2013 MIT Media Lab

CTR Review
Ease of Use
Design Features
Reviewed using the Standard Rubric
For ages 7-up
For grades 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, S, Jr, Sr.
$free, Windows, Mac OSX
Teaches: programming, debugging, logic, math, science, STEM
Tagged for: Coding, Camera, All Time Best, Classic, STEM, Social, Early Math, Math, Art, Library Apps, Augmented Reality, Fred Rogers
See also Scratch 2.0 (January 2019)

Free, powerful and easy to learn, Scratch is a visual programming language that uses jigsaw-puzzle like bits of code that snap together, bringing programming within reach of novices.

Scratch works with any standard web browser, best on a Macintosh, Windows or Chrome computer. An Internet connection browser and Flash are required.

Scratch won't work on a tablet. You can install the Scratch 2.0 editor to work on projects without an internet connection. This version will work on Mac, Windows, and some versions of Linux (32 bit). Note that Adobe Air is required. To get started, visit , and click on any project icon. If you create an account (with a user name and password), you can make your own program.

Features include an integrated paint editor that combines bitmap and vector graphics.

The online community is a key part of Scratch. So it is easy to make a program and then share it, or modify an existing project. The drag-and-drop puzzle pieces control on-screen Sprites, which can take any form (such as a digital photo of your dog, or perhaps a word from a poem, that is read out loud when it is clicked). There's also a set of Logo commands (such as Penup and Pendown) that will cause some to recall the language that was popular 25 years ago. Because you can record sounds or turn any digital picture into a sprite, the power of Scratch as a story telling or artistic tool begins to emerge. Finished products can be uploaded to an MIT website where they can be previewed on any browser, or downloaded and further edited.

According to Mitchel Resnick, the LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab and director of the Scratch Team. “Scratch 2.0 is as much about coding to learn as it is learning to code." According to Mr. Resnick, "since the launch of Scratch in 2007 there are more than 3 million projects on the website." As a result, this new version of Scratch is backwards compatible with the old projects.

While Scratch is free and easy to use, there are some weaknesses to note. Deleting parts of code—such as a Sprite—is done by dragging it off the work area, which can result in accidentally loosing all or parts of a program. We wished there was a better undo or Control-Z option. We also noted that because Scratch is Flash-based, there are times when a lot of computing (and battery) power is used, especially when the camera is turned on. We also noted that clicking on a link can lead you away from your program, ahead of the autosave.

For those who have been waiting to take back the power of interactive media from Viacom and Disney and give it to the children, Scratch is a welcome new option—and you certainly can't argue with the price.

According to CTR Intern Matthew DiMatteo, "Scratch is legit. It's nice how they give kids this kind of programming power without appearing too formidable." Visit / for more information.

Update 11/6/2016. 100 million unique visitors came to the Scratch website. 25,000 new projects are shared daily. Collaborations include Cartoon Network so kids can program with characters like the Powerpuff Girls; the LEGO Company and Intel for connects to LEGO WeDo robotics and Arduino 101 and Google to create Scratch Blocks, so that developers can add programmability to their toys, games, and other products.

See also ScratchJr.
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