A friend of mine, Laura, is involved in an interesting project called DigitalKids. It’s an idea of teaching young children (8-14 years old) how to use computers as an after school activity. The reality is that kids these days are born with computers, tablets or smartphones in their hands, so nobody needs the extra effort to get them in touch with a computer for the first time. But the idea is to teach them how to do useful things.
Related to one of the weeks for the DigitalKids course, I was told about a very interesting tool called Scratch. It’s an actual programming language, but now in the way you would usually think of a programming language. Instead of writing code, you drag and drop objects that represent things like conditions, loops and operations. Instead of writing a successions of lines of code to make it do something, you tie these object blocks to one another in a logical succession. Everything is very visual.
Scratch is an open source platform developed at MIT with the exact purpose of teaching programming to kids. It’s open source so it’s available on all platforms (Linux, MacOS and Windows) and was translated in several languages (including Romanian). It makes it very accessible for any user.
Kids can create simple programs like animations or even games. They can publish their projects online for people to see their result as a Flash object.
I stumbled upon it again on a site called code.org, that promotes teaching programming in US schools. They have a video about Scratch.