Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tech Tuesday: ScratchJr- Coding for Kindergarteners

 Welcome back to Tech Tuesday! We love to explore new technologies and apps here at the library, especially when they are a creation from the always awesome MIT Media Lab. ScratchJr is a free iPad app made possible through a collaboration between the DevTech Research Group at Tufts University, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, and the Playful Invention Company. They expect to release an Android version late in 2014 and a web-based version in 2015.
Image from kickstarter.com
 The ScratchJr project raised funds earlier this year on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter and also received funding from the National Science Foundation, Code-to-Learn Foundation, Lego Foundation and BT.

We have held Scratch programs here in the past for the tweens and although a wonderful and fun educational tool, Scratch original was more challenging than expected for some of the younger participants. ScratchJr uses the same idea of teaching an introductory programming language via graphical programming blocks, but in a more simple and visual format. This new app enables young children, specifically children ages 5-7 that would have struggled with the original Scratch, to create their own interactive stories, games and more. Children can snap together brightly colored blocks to make their characters jump, sing or dance as well as edit these characters in the paint editor and use pictures of themselves or friends in their projects.


Image from wired.com
You may be wondering "why would coding be a valuable skill for a kindergartener?". Well, coding or computer programming is truly a new type of literacy. Think of it as a type of writing- it enables you to express ideas and organize your thoughts. 

This sort of coding can also be a wonderful stepping stone to more complicated computer science concepts. It also provides a great foundation for young learners who are growing up in a time when digital literacies are more and more important to grasp. Supportingeducation.org wrote, "One incredible feat that ScratchJr accomplishes is reaching an audience who largely cannot read, giving them a considerable head start on critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills." 


Image from scratchjr.org
If you'd like to know more about the research and work put into creating ScratchJr you can read an interesting interview Forbes conducted with Mitchel Resnick, one of the creators of ScratchJr, here.

ScratchJr is rich with educational opportunity and I encourage you to check it out today! Educationnews.org reports that some schools are already using ScratchJr in kindergarten classrooms. If you don't have an iPad, stop by the library anytime during our regular hours to check out an iPad for usage inside of the library. We'd be glad to show you ScratchJr and help you and your little one start coding!
Eliot-Pearson Children’s School in Medford, MA.
Launched in July for iPads, the app, which is offered free of charge, is already in use in Kindergarten classrooms at the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School in Medford, MA.  Teachers across the nation are encouraged to sign up for a ScratchJr Pilot Research Program. - See more at: http://www.educationnews.org/technology/can-kindergarteners-be-taught-to-code-scratchjr-says-yes/#sthash.wOg2KWHf.dpuf
Launched in July for iPads, the app, which is offered free of charge, is already in use in Kindergarten classrooms at the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School in Medford, MA.  Teachers across the nation are encouraged to sign up for a ScratchJr Pilot Research Program. - See more at: http://www.educationnews.org/technology/can-kindergarteners-be-taught-to-code-scratchjr-says-yes/#sthash.wOg2KWHf.dpuf

Launched in July for iPads, the app, which is offered free of charge, is already in use in Kindergarten classrooms at the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School in Medford, MA.  Teachers across the nation are encouraged to sign up for a ScratchJr Pilot Research Program. - See more at: http://www.educationnews.org/technology/can-kindergarteners-be-taught-to-code-scratchjr-says-yes/#sthash.wOg2KWHf.dpu