SCRATCH programming

I purchased Coding Games in SCRATCH from Amazon.  SCRATCH is a visual programming language that is available for free from MIT.  I learned programming in the dinosaur days before mice and GUI, so this was brand new to me–and exciting!

While SCRATCH is meant for kids (from 8 to 80), I’ve found a lot to be excited about.

Using code blocks lets me focus on flow control and logical sequences rather that syntax.  The built-in library of sprites and backgrounds meant nearly instant cha-cha when I started the first activity.  That is so much more exciting than “Hello World.”

I have 2 chapters left in the book, and scanning ahead, it appears to do a pretty good job covering the features of SCRATCH.  Once you get the MIT SCRATCH site, you will find plenty of free activities that will cover the same knowledge that’s in the book, but I’m old enough to like holding a book when I’m learning something new.  This one is well written, with clear coding examples and lots of explanations as to why you are doing things.

I’ve already got some great ideas for turning some of the games in the book into instructional activities (and probably removing most of the fun).  I can see the maze game converted into a piecewise function activity.  There’s also a game in the book that launched a monkey at bananas.  It’s similar to the Angry Birds game.  My brain just saw PROJECTILE MOTION–PARABOLAS.  I enjoy quadratics, so I’m full of ideas for this one.

My coding from college is so outdated, I didn’t expect to see anything I knew.  It was exciting to find how much of it I either remembered or just slipped in naturally next to what I already know.  It’s triggering lots of long buried memories and knowledge.  Modifying the code in the monkey launch game to use a quadratic rather than simulated gravity reminded me that I see math differently when I code it than I do when processing by hand.  I like it.  I look at all the math from an entirely new perspective when I do–and understand the connections even better.

Next Learning Goals:
1.  Finish my SCRATCH book.
2.  Learn to embed a SCRATCH game into a web page.
3.  Work through the SCRATCH book that teaches all the mathy drawings.
4.  Figure out how to do an exponent in SCRATCH.  I’m not sure if it’s repeated multiplication or something simple like a carrot “^.”
5.  Check out SNAP.
6.  Decide how serious I am about a career change.  I could have a lot of fun making little, learning games (that I’ll never be able to use in my classroom) and stay where I am.  Or I can get serious about real coding and leaving education.  Which language do I choose?