Scratch is a fantastic programming language that has taken the world of education by storm. Created by MIT, (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), it is designed to help young people learn the fundamentals of programming. Through dragging and dropping “block” around a screen to control different characters known as “sprites”, everything is there. As a former programmer, I wish I had have had something like this language and it would have made the concepts a lot easier to understand.
Interestingly, Scratch has really taken off in Ireland in a big way, no doubt through the super work of Stephen Howell from IT Tallaght who invented a way to connect Scratch to a Kinect, thus opening up lots of opportunities to give people the ability to make motion controlled games. Stephen has given talks, courses and seminars about Scratch for a number of years and his passion has inspired loads of teachers, including me, to give it a go in the classroom.
Stephen has teamed up with Séamus O’Neill, the well known author of many school textbooks but also a programmer and Scratch tutor for Navan Education Centre. Together they have released a book, Scratch from Scratch. I was lucky enough to be sent an evaluation copy of the book to review.
I was thrilled when I opened the book to find a bright, colourful and incredibly well-structured step-by-step guide to the language. It is paced perfectly from the very beginnings of Scratch to more complicated features like lists, all in less than 40 pages! The book divides itself into tasks and skills in order to teach concepts. The tasks give the user the chance to try out things they have learned to create programs. The concepts introduce a new idea or block.
I would thoroughly recommend buying this book as soon as possible. Not only is it brilliant, it is really good value at only €15. I believe there are some follow-up books coming down the line and if they are anywhere near the same quality as this first offering, budding programmers everywhere will be very lucky indeed.
Last Update: August 22, 2017