Friday, March 26, 2010

Expanding Your Horizons and Scratch

Expanding Your Horizons is a once a year conference for middle school girls, held at colleges across the country. It happened today at Contra Costa College, and I taught a workshop on using Scratch.

I've been a computer programmer in the past, so it wasn't hard to pick up enough to get started. Scratch is a free programming environment in which you use scripts to control characters called sprites. You can add sound effects and movement, and make cartoons, stories, or games.

I think the girls had fun. I promised to post on my blog so they could ask me questions here.  Any questions?


  1. I found your blog through a mention in a Psychology Today article! I can't wait to read more! I have recently introduced elementary/middle school students to Scratch in our newly formed computer club! I am very much looking forward to reading more of your posts! Consider me a kindred math spirit - and a girl (mom of 4 actually)!

  2. I should probably learn more Scratch before trying to teach it again. Maybe I can ask you for help when that time comes around.

  3. I've tried to get my kids (actual offspring, not students) interested in programming with Scratch, but they may be a bit on the young side... I had fun at least. What age do you think is a good time to start? Also, I was wondering if you've looked at Squeak? It's more powerful, but I think it has a significantly steeper learning curve.

    BTW, I also just stumbled across the Psychology Today article that cites your blog (which I started reading way before it was famous). :)

  4. >which I started reading way before it was famous

    I think my blog has a long way to go before it's famous. But thanks!

    I haven't used Squeak, and I don't have much sense about how old for programming. I imagine it totally depends on the kid. My son (7) plays with making sound effects on Scratch, but hasn't used any of the real programming features.

  5. My 9 year-old son had a 2 week mini-course on Scratch at his school (met for 1.5 hours per day for 10 days) and now he's using it to make his own computer games. Very accessible stuff! I'll have to check out Squeak next.

  6. Thanks for this link, I've never heard of Scratch, but my kids will love to explore it!

    I'm glad you got a shout out in PT, I'm off to find the article! You are brilliant with what you are doing for math and sharing your enthusiasm for it. It's made a huge difference to me :)

  7. As a side note, I still have my Expanding Your Horizons t-shirt from my visit to the conference in middle school, even though it is about 20 years old! I didn't realize it is still going, but glad to hear it. I loved it (obviously, or I wouldn't be the aspiring math teacher I am today).


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