Scratch, A Programming Place – REVIEW

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Scratch, A Programming Place – REVIEW

Sanjay G., Reporter

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It is easy to learn programming skills with Scratch! Founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2003 as a method to help students ages 8-16 learn coding, there are now millions of users and projects!

With Scratch, you can make simple projects like the mascot, Scratch Cat, walking or complicated projects like “pen” games, which have graphics drawn with code. The Scratch programming language features blocks that you can connect to form scripts, which are lines of code that run at a specific event. You can also add sprites, which are characters you can add into your project. Each sprite has their own scripts. Although to some it may seem simple, people have made complicated 3D projects and games that run pretty fast!

The community can also view projects. Most projects receive only about 10 views, but more advanced projects receive about 100! There are some “featured” projects that the Scratch Team, the group that manages Scratch, put on the homepage in the “Featured Projects” section to receive additional popularity. These projects get around 25,000 views!

I use Scratch almost every day and have about 20 projects on it. I like using Scratch because it is easy to learn, but hard to master, and others can see those projects!

My favorite features are the pen projects. These are projects that have all their art made with computer code, compared to non-pen projects, which have most of their art drawn using a drawing editor. The majority of my projects are completely drawn in pen! I like these because they are difficult to make, and look good without lots of art skills. To make them, however, is difficult. The game is constantly redrawing itself every instant! Pen is also a great way to increase your math and logic skills. Two categories of blocks – variables and operators – really help with this. Variables allow you to store numbers or even text for later use, and operators has all the math and arithmetic. These two blocks are essential to learn if you program using the pen blocks.

I also like to view the projects of others. Almost all types of projects you can imagine are on Scratch. Many are interesting, and even a bit addictive! However, the best part of Scratch is creating projects.

Although by far the best way to learn programming, Scratch has some serious negative qualities. The biggest was an update made in early 2018. This limited the use of variables called cloud data. This allowed you to store data so the next person who clicks on your project can see it! But, it is very glitchy and resets a lot. The update made the limit of cloud variables only 128 characters long. Cloud data can already only store numbers. The problem with that is how it limits storage. One of my favorite projects, my game creator, used that to store games people made within my project! Although 128 characters seems like a lot (Picture how high a number 1 with 127 zeros after it would be), this could not handle a single game someone can make! Therefore, the different possibilities of projects you can make has just decreased significantly. This is arguably the most important part of 21st century programming, but now we can’t learn it using Scratch.

Although Scratch has a problem with cloud data, I highly recommend it. The ways you can share projects are almost impossible to beat, especially since some projects have over 1,000,000 views! The potential is so close to limitless, I think that everybody should try Scratch, and fill their brains with more knowledge!

Scratch Logo by MIT Media Lab, (modified) via scarfedigitalsandbox.teach.educ.ubc.ca is licensed under CC BY-SA

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