The Scratch team in the MIT Media Lab is gearing up to release a new version of Scratch designed to work on mobile devices. The team is also working on a way to integrate the physical world with Scratch using what they’re currently calling a “Scratch Pad.” Developers are testing these new features on a separate ScratchX site, where they’ve posted open source code for the various extensions that could work with other types of physical devices, such LEGO, WeDo, Arduinos, or even text-to-speech. The idea is to make it easier for students to write programs in Scratch that control or manipulate things they’ve built in the physical world. The developers are also building up the supportive materials they offer to teachers who want to get started using Scratch in the classroom. They’ve created learning resource cardsthat are freely downloadable and modifiable so teachers can change them to suit their needs.
Plus: Scratch Day is a global network of events that brings together young people from the Scratch community to share projects, learn from one another, and welcome newcomers. Last year more than 1,000 events were celebrated around the world. This year’s celebration will take place on May 12, 2018. Look for a Scratch Day in your community or organize your own.
In smaller rural schools, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education can face troublesome barriers. In our K–12 district of 730 students, we have many of the common obstacles, including limited funds, no extra faculty, and an already overloaded class schedule. These three join arms to block us from using any of the really cool programs we’d like to. Other institutions sing praises of cutting-edge programs and share their successes. Meanwhile, rural schools are trying to figure out how to educate equally deserving kids in STEM.
Google’s Kick Start challenge offers coders around the world the chance to develop and hone their programing skills through online-hosted competition rounds. The three-hour rounds feature a variety of algorithmic challenges, all developed by Google engineers so that students get a sense of the technical skills needed for a career at Google.