BWX Scratchers in Action

Devlin recreates the song “Seven Nation Army” using Scratch code.

In After Care this year, we have been exploring different ways we can use computer code to create visual art, tell stories, invent new things, and share our passions with other people. One tool we’ve enjoyed using is the Scratch visual programming language. Developed at the MIT Media Lab, Scratch provides a safe, fun online community for programmers of all ages and ability levels to upload their projects and learn from each other’s work. Coding in Scratch requires users to snap color-coded blocks together so it feels familiar to anyone who has worked with Legos. Every project on Scratch can be opened up and remixed so users can iterate on each others’ ideas and learn new techniques. In his book Lifelong Kindergarten, Mitch Resnick writes about the genesis of Scratch and how its development was informed by what he calls “the Four P’s of Creative Learning.”

  1. PROJECTS. Creating projects is the central activity in the Scratch community.

  2. PASSION. When people work on projects they care about, they’re willing to work longer and harder. Because Scratch supports many different types of projects (games, stories, animations, and more), everyone can work on projects they care about.

  3. PEERS. Creativity is a social process with people collaborating, sharing, and building on another’s work.

  4. PLAY. Scratch is designed to support playful experimentation as a pathway to creativity, encouraging young people to take risks and try new things.

This framework maps perfectly to the educational environment we try to cultivate at Brightworks (which might be why our school was featured as a case study later in the book) so it’s no surprise that our kids have started developing a diverse range of impressive projects…

Romero began his Scratch journey re-designing a game called Nyan Cat Blast, adding new graphics inspired by his favorite internet memes. He has now developed a strong foundational skill set and helps his friends debug their programs during Scratch Club on Community Friday.

During the latest Scratch Club, Sakira created a beautiful intro animation that she can put at the beginning of her projects to personalize them.

During After Care, members of the Red and Yellow Band have enjoyed finding fun games and then “hacking” their code to make them easier. In Calvin’s apple-picking game, he has removed all of the obstacles from the original code and increased the size of an item so they were easier to collect.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Brightworks Scratch projects are developing, check out the new Brightworks Scratch Studio curated by Ronan Underwood.