Super Scratch Programming Adventure! by The LEAD Project

March 2, 2017 by wendy


Super Scratch Programming Adventure Covers Version 2
Super Scratch Programming Adventure! by The LEAD Project

Super Scratch Programming Adventure! as the title implies combines programming with adventure. It not only teaches the reader how to program in Scratch, but also engages the reader with an action-packed storyline.

What is Scratch?

Scratch is a graphical programming language that is designed for young people and other beginning programmers. Using Scratch, you can design and create interactive animations, stories, games, art, and music by simply dragging and dropping coloured blocks. You can even upload your projects to the Internet to share with friends, family, and people from all over the world.

What is the Story?

Super Scratch Programming Adventure! Stage 1 Story
Super Scratch Programming Adventure! Stage 1 Story

A solar storm unleashes the Dark Wizard from the digital world. He and his Dark Minions attempt to take over the real world, but Scratchy, Mitch, and the Cosmic Defenders are determined to protect the universe from the Dark Wizard’s plans.

The story progresses through a series of stages, where each stage presents a challenge from the Dark Wizard. Scratchy, Mitch, and the Cosmic Defenders must solve each challenge using directions from a secret manual. The reader must follow the directions to help complete the programming missions, and protect the balance of the universe.

Cross-Curricular Learning

What I love most about this book is that it combines literacy with computing. I used this book with a class of 10 students between ages 8 and 10, and they were all captivated by the story. Because the story gave the programming projects purpose, my students were motivated to complete each mission, and they were excited to find out what would happen next.

The story also blends learning from other subject areas. In one stage, the Dark Wizard takes control of the Louvre museum and all of its art in Paris. To complete the programming challenge, my students created a quiz with questions about the Louvre and the Mona Lisa.

Step-By-Step Projects

Super Scratch Programming Adventure! Stage 1 Project
Super Scratch Programming Adventure! Stage 1 Project

Each programming mission demonstrates a different type of Scratch project and comes with easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions. In this way, the projects cover a wide range of concepts. They also introduce a variety of features and tricks in Scratch.

Fun for All Ages

Super Scratch Programming Adventure! Stage 8 Project
Super Scratch Programming Adventure! Stage 8 Project

What I personally enjoyed when working through the programming projects with my students was the movie references. There are references to Indiana Jones, The Matrix, and Harry Potter. Although the book is designed for young learners and beginning programmers, I think everyone, from young to old, from beginner to expert, would have fun with this book.

Length of Projects

My only concern is that there is a big leap in terms of length from the first project to the second. The first project can be completed in one sitting. My students between the ages of 8 and 10 completed the project in under an hour. All of the following projects, however, are longer, and may require two or more sittings.

Scratch 1.4 vs. Scratch 2.0

Super Scratch Programming Adventure! Covers Version 1.4
Covers Version 1.4

Super Scratch Programming Adventure! Covers Version 2.0
Covers Version 2.0

There are two editions of the book. One is blue and covers Scratch 1.4, which is the older downloadable version of Scratch. The other is green and covers Scratch 2.0, which includes both the online and newer downloadable versions of Scratch. Even though the second edition is more up to date, I was able to use the first edition with my students, who completed the projects using Scratch 2.0 online.

Resources for Parents and Educators

You can download the projects for this book from No Starch Press, which includes complete working projects, blank projects, custom sprites, and a brief Getting Started with Scratch guide written by the Scratch team.

The reason why they provide both complete working projects and blank projects is to support different learning styles. The complete working projects allow young learners to explore and build on the projects while the blank projects allow students to add their own programming by following the instructions in the book. In both cases, students have the opportunity to improve the scripts, and customize and extend the projects.

The website also links to additional resources for educators:

About the Book

Super Scratch Programming Adventure! is written by the Learning through Engineering, Art, and Design (LEAD) Project, which was founded in 2005 by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups in partnership with the creators of Scratch at the MIT Media Lab and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Book Details

  • Title: Super Scratch Programming Adventure!
  • Author: The LEAD Project
  • Publisher: No Starch Press
  • Publication date: 2013
  • ISBN hardcover: 978-1-250-06500-1
  • ISBN ebook: 978-1-59327-531-0
  • Buy online: nostarch.com/scratch




Learn to code by tinkering

September 30, 2015 by wendy


Python Turtle Program
epicness by Delta MakerLab summer camper

I recently came across a paper written by Mitchel Resnick, head of the Scratch team, and Eric Rosenbaum, co-creator of MaKeyMaKey, called “Designing for Tinkerability” that caught my attention. It made me wonder. What is tinkering? Why is it important? And are there tools that teach coding which promote tinkering? Let’s find out!

What is tinkering?

According to Resnick and Rosenbaum, tinkering is playful, experimental, and iterative. It allows the learner to constantly explore, try new ideas, and refine their work. Instead of starting at the top with a concrete goal and working their way down, tinkerers start at the bottom by experimenting with different possibilities and work their way up to their goal.

Why is tinkering important?

Tinkering is important because it promotes creative thinking and resilience. Tinkerers learn to iterate, adapt, and take risks. It may seem like tinkering is aimless and tinkerers don’t fully understand what’s happening, but as Resnick and Rosenbaum point out, they understand bits and pieces that will eventually fit into a bigger picture.

Tinkerable coding tools

For a tool to be tinkerable, Resnick and Rosenbaum say that it must incorporate three key principles: immediate feedback, fluid experimentation, and open exploration. Here are a few websites that encourage tinkering for you to try.

  • Scratch – Scratch definitely implements all three principles. When coding in Scratch, you can click on blocks to immediately see what they do, it’s easy to get started, and you can create and share a variety of different projects.
  • Trinket – When writing a Python program in Trinket, you can click on the run button to see what your program does. You can also import modules like Turtle to build different kinds of projects. If you combine Trinket with Code Club projects, it’s also really easy to get started.
  • Thimble – Thimble by Mozilla is an online editor that allows you to create your own webpages. When you type in the editor on the left side of your screen, the preview of your webpage on the right updates straight away. They also have projects that you can remix into your own version so that you can get started quickly.




A Teacher’s Guide to Scratch: Lesson 10

September 8, 2015 by wendy


Scratch Design Project
Story of Them by ShinyStar27 on Scratch

Congratulations! Today is Project Day! Your students have accomplished a lot over the last 9 sessions, and today is their chance to share what they’ve learned.

Lesson 10: Project Day

Project Day can take many forms. Students can share their projects by presenting them to the entire class, giving demos in small groups, or displaying them in a fair-like setting. Choose a method that works best for your class.

Student reflections

Before getting started, give all of your students a chance to reflect and celebrate their successes. Ask your students to think about their journey.

  • What was their proudest moment?
  • What was the biggest challenge that they overcame?
  • What did they enjoy the most?

Project presentations

If needed, give your students time to put the finishing touches on their projects and upload them to the class studio. Suggest to students who are finished to ask others to test their projects, help others to complete their projects, or plan their presentations. Once everyone is ready, start the presentations.

Congratulations!

Create a celebratory mood by incorporating decorations, music, snacks, and/or guests. After the presentations, present students with certificates to acknowledge their hard work and encourage them to keep on coding!




A Teacher’s Guide to Scratch: Lesson 9

August 25, 2015 by wendy


Scratch Quiz Game
bossness quiz by horse_lover7868 on Scratch

Have you noticed that games and apps often track information as you use them? This week, we’re diving into variables, which allow us to store and modify data within our programs.

Lesson 9: Keeping Score

Why, as computer programmers, do we want to store information? Do your students have any ideas? Brainstorm things that we want to track in our projects. For example, a game might want to store the player’s name, the number of lives left, or the number of coins collected. All of these things are kept as variables.

What is a variable?

A variable is like a jar. We can store anything inside of it and we can give it a label so that we know what’s inside. For instance, a variable called score can contain a number that represents how many points the player has earned.

Variables in Scratch

Scratch Variable Blocks
Variable blocks

Let’s see what a variable looks like in Scratch! Create a new Scratch project and under the “Scripts” tab, click on “Data”. From there, click on the “Make a Variable” button. Make up a label for the variable next to “Variable Name” and click “OK”.

Did your students notice all the new blocks that were created? Drag the circular block with the variable name into the scripts area. Click on it to demonstrate that we can use it to see its value similar to the answer block that we used for our quizzes last lesson. Drag out the remaining variable blocks and click on each one to demonstrate what they do.

Variables in action

Challenge your students to incorporate variables into an existing project. Maybe they can use variables to keep score in their quiz games from last lesson. Can they also think of ways to use variables in their mazes or design projects?

Project testing

The remainder of the lesson is time for your students to complete their design projects. For those who are finished, encourage them to find others to test their projects and fix any glitches or bugs that they might find.




A Teacher’s Guide to Scratch: Lesson 8

August 12, 2015 by wendy


Scratch Maze Game
A-maze-ing thing by THAT_GUY_YOU_HATE on Scratch

What makes a game? Is it characters? Is it story? Interactivity? In this week’s lesson, we explore common elements of games and how we can design and build our own games in Scratch.

Lesson 8: Dream Game

We’ve covered a lot of concepts over the last 7 lessons, including events, loops, timing, and messaging. All of them are important to making games, but today’s concept might be the most important.

Favourite games

In small groups, give your students a few minutes to brainstorm their favourite games and have each group choose one favourite game. Then come together as a class and create a list of favourite games. Discuss what these games have in common. What makes them games?

What are conditionals?

Almost all games have rules. Provide an example of a rule, like if the player touches a coin, then the player collects 5 points. See if your students can come up with a list of rules following the same sentence structure.

After listing a few examples, explain that in video games, these rules are called conditionals. A conditional starts with the word if followed by a condition, something that can be true or false. It ends with the word then, which is followed by an action, what to do if the condition is true. Revisit your list of rules. See if your students can identify the conditions and actions.

A special kind of conditional

There are different kinds of conditionals. The one we just covered is called if-then. There is another type of conditional called if-then-else. Can your students guess how it’s different?

If-then-else works just like if-then except it has an extra action after the word else that describes what to do if the condition is false. For example, if I’m feeling tired, then I’ll take a nap, else I’ll play outside. Can your students think of other if-then-else examples?

Maze or Quiz?

To gain more experience with conditionals, have your students remix a starter project that contains conditionals like our Maze Starter Project or Quiz Starter Project above. Each project has an example of how to use conditionals and a chance for students to try it themselves!

Project time

Once your students feel more comfortable with conditionals, encourage them to add conditionals to their design projects. At the end of the lesson, ask for a few volunteers to share how they incorporated conditionals into their projects.





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