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Viewing Topic: Programming: MIT's Scratch - Page 1
#0: 02-16-2014 @ 12:50:26 am
Link to this Post: http://www.machvergil.com/gamenight/messages.php?go=7323#7323

BountyHunterSAxBountyHunterSAx

  • Real Name:Ahmad Rasheed
  • Joined:2011-06-29

http://scratch.mit.edu/

Scratch is a 90-100% graphical-instruction-based programming language. No code to type -- none that you can even if you want to. My little sister (12) was super-excited to show me this when I got home for a visit this Valentines-day weekend. She was on a robotics team in one of these 'Lego mindstorms" competitions before, but other than that, she's had virtually no programming exposure, experience, or instruction. Still, she knows I'm into it, and wanted to show me what she'd made on Scratch.

Also, she named her account after the pirate from that brief D&D session I'd ran for her since 'Captain Scratchbeard' had Scratch right in the name :).

Imagine just how proud and impressed I was to see what she'd come up with! She made one game with a cheeto-bowl bouncing back and forth horizontally at the bottom of the screen, with a parrot following your mouse cursor and code logic designed to make it drop a cheeto, detect if it landed in the bowl or not, increment your score, and let you level up accordingly.

 

I think the best part though is how some of the logic-errors and bugs she ran into so precisely echo some of my own issues that I've run into when coding in the past.


Anyway, Scratch is easily the most accessible introductory tool for learning the basic 'feel' of coding/programming and learning some basic code-logic. It's not without its flaws, to be sure, and it was helpful to watch m sister walk me through her first program before I took a stab at it. Nevertheless, the clever way they work in variable/data-types with a visually different 'shaped' box, and work in procedural/linear coding with lego-block-style interlocking pieces? It's actually *wonderfully* elegant in its simplicity for its target audience.


Take a peek if you've got the time. Making an account is painless and free (they don't verify your email address). If there's any questions I'll do what I can to answer. If there's anyone in our group who really wants a taste of what programming-code-logic can feel like, without the hassle of learning a language or the benefit of actual productivity then please lemme know and I'll walk you through the equivalent of a basic 'Hello WOrld" program/game.


-AHMAD


#1: 02-16-2014 @ 05:54:43 pm
Link to this Post: http://www.machvergil.com/gamenight/messages.php?go=7324#7324

DominionDominion

Dominion Photo.
  • Real Name:Mark
  • Joined:2010-01-22

Seems pretty neat and interesting! I know programming is never really "fun" when you first get into it cause it's all syntax and logic nonsense you have to deal with which can bore a lot of kids trying to get into it. This is pretty nice as it gets you right into what kids want to do: Put characters on screen and make them do stuff! I'm all for any way letting kids get a foot in the door for programming and having fun with it.

If she ever wants to move up and try something a little more "real world" you could point her at Visual Basic. I think there's a free version you can download to do stuff. Should still retain a more "point and click gui" style programming that's a bit easier to get into. It has been awhile since I did anything with that though so I might be off on it as a next step. I do recommend you let her continue to have as much fun on this Scratch programming as she wants, perhaps just let her explore other more complex languages on her own. Anything more complex like C++ or anything and she'd probably get bored with it quickly. Not saying she couldn't grasp it if she wanted (she seems like one smart cookie ;) ) but just saying if it was me at that age, I'd probably drop it after looking at anything more intimidating like what I use at my job on a regular basis.


"Video games are bad for you? That's what they said about rock and roll." Shigeru Miyamoto
#2: 02-17-2014 @ 06:23:46 pm
Link to this Post: http://www.machvergil.com/gamenight/messages.php?go=7325#7325

BountyHunterSAxBountyHunterSAx

  • Real Name:Ahmad Rasheed
  • Joined:2011-06-29

WumpusHunt:

http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/embed/18047855

 

So, sunk four hours into this over the course of a couple days and - voila. WumpusHunt. The game is not terribly challenging. Or fun. Or interesting. Or whatever.

But it *was* the perfect size project to get familiar with Scratch as a tool. I'm impressed with just how much you actually can do with it - it. It even has rudimentary support for basic arrays and such. That said, it is *incredibly* limiting for serious programming. At one point I needed to calculate the distance between two points and include it in a sentence. Something akin to:

"You are precisely " + (abs((int)(Xi - Xii)) + abs((int)(Yi - Yii))) + " squares away!"

The resulting string of mishmashed bubbles was so long it extended the coding window to about 3x the basic length and is a bewildering thing to try to make head or tail of now (although mercifully I know what it is already ;) ).


So yeah, I stand by my original assessment: good teaching tool, not a productivity tool or serious coding language. I still think I'll try to make a memory-match styled game before I put it away.

-AHMAD


#3: 02-17-2014 @ 06:41:54 pm
Link to this Post: http://www.machvergil.com/gamenight/messages.php?go=7326#7326

Misharum KittumMisharum Kittum

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  • Real Name:Tim
  • Joined:2010-01-22

I have been eaten by a grue.


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