Saturday, March 8, 2014

Scratch•ing the Surface of Visual Programming

Mrs. Yollis and her students love learning about computer programming. During the Hour of Code project, Heather's mom came in and taught about JavaScript using the Khan Academy. 

On Friday, Nick's mom came in to teach the class about an online educational programming language called Scratch. First, the good doctor shared a presentation about her work as a computer scientist. 

Photo by Mrs. Yollis 

Next, she shared some information about the computer program called  Scratch.

Here is the sprite that is first introduced when you open the program. By clicking and dragging events, you can make the sprite move, slide, rotate, or talk. The event options are limitless! 

When using Scratch, you may create using this orange sprite. However, the Scratch program allows creators to choose a new sprite or create a unique character from scratch. :-) 
(To start from scratch is an idiom that means to start at the beginning.)

Students worked in teams to create a program

Photo by Mrs. Yollis

As you can see, the events lock together to make a sequence of events

Photo by Mrs. Yollis

At the end of the session, teams came up to the front to share what they had created. It was interesting to see the different programs.

Photo by Mrs. Yollis

Photo by Mrs. Yollis

 Here is a link to learn about Scratch. 
Scratch must be downloaded by a parent. Parents, here is a direct link to the PARENT INFORMATION PAGE.

There is no iPad application for Scratch.

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Do you see the word play in the title? 

Scratch•ing the Surface of Visual Programming
(Hint: Scratching the surface is an idiom.)

What did you think about the presentation?

What have you created? 


  1. Dear Mrs Yollis and Class,

    Thank you for inviting me to your class last Friday. It was so much fun being in your classroom and talking about computer programming. I was very impressed with the great and novel programs you came up with.

    The fun about computer programming is that you can create new and unexpected things. I very much enjoyed seeing your creativity and enthusiasm.

    I hope you design some new adventures for Sprite soon!


    1. @ Ewa,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to teach us about Scratch. I had played around with the program a little bit, but your lesson and guidance helped me learn along with my students.

      I look forward to building some new programs with that class in the future!

      Mrs. Y♥llis

  2. It's interesting to see you using Scratch - is programming a part of your curriculum or are you introducing it because it interests you? As of September 2014 it becomes part of the new English curriculum, so we have been looking at Scratch and will introduce it with our classes soon. Perhaps there is a joint project in there somewhere for us as learners!
    Mrs Monaghan

    1. @ Mrs. Monaghan,

      No, programming is not part of our curriculum, but I see it as a valuable skill for the future and so I have been introducing it to my students. Programming looks like it incorporates problem solving skills, logic, develops cause and effect, and allows for a lot of creative expression.

      That's interesting that it becomes part of your curriculum. We would love to work with you on a project or two! Are there any lessons developed already for September 2014 that we could try right now?

      Happy programming!
      Mrs. Y♥llis

  3. Shayna and SamanthaMarch 11, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    Dear Mrs. Yollis and class,

    Some people say that sitting and playing on your phone all day would rot your brain. It's true, but not fully true. Playing on your phone can be a learning opportunity. Just don't play on it all day. For example, Minecraft is a fun and educational game that teaches you about geometry and math. Another example is Chickionary. Chickionary teaches you about using a dictionary, but makes it fun for kids.

    Do you play any games that educate? If so, what's your favorite?

    Your educational students,
    Shayna and Samantha

  4. Dear Doctor,

    Thank you so much for teaching us Scratch. I love it! I play with it every day on my dad's computer after I get home from school. My favorite category is motion because I like to make the Sprite do things like glide and jump. What is your favorite part about Scratch? What is your favorite part about being a computer scientist?


    1. Hi Ben,

      I'm so glad you like Scratch! I like Scratch because it allows me to easily put together different functionality and try it out. You basically draw computer programs. Sometimes things don't work as you would expect them, but then you have fun chasing the problem-- we call this debugging, or finding "bugs" in your program. Once you find the bug and fix your program: success!!!

      My favorite part about being a computer scientist is to try to figure out how we can make computers do things we could not have imagined before. Computers are used in so many different areas of life from commercial devices (phones) to science applications, like the Montage astronomy application. My interest is to figure out how to make computers work well for science. As a result i get to work with researchers in astronomy, bioinformatics, physics, and other domains. When we work together, I learn about new things-- and that it fun!

  5. Dear Mrs. Yollis,

    I was very impressed that everyone was doing so well for their first time using Scratch! I tried using Scratch at home. I made Sprite1 meow and then asked you what your name was. I played around and was able to find a cute puppy. I hope we can do Scratch at school again soon.

    Your Student,

  6. Dear Mrs. Yollis,
    I like playing with Scratch because I find it fun to create characters and choose landscapes. I also like to make Scratch move.
    I was happy to discover Scratch.

  7. Hello Mrs. Yollis and Class,
    It is me Emily from sciencegirlem! I've been looking through your guys' blog and seeing a of the really cool projects and things you do. I have used scratch before when I went to a programing camp with my dad at K-State! I love making cool things. Another favorite of mine is Alice, I think I like more. I remember that one time I made a monkey going around on a carnival ride.
    I also like a game called hopscotch, it is an iPad app. It has a lot to do with programing.
    It sure does look like you guys are having a really fun time. If you have any time to check out my new blog that would be FANTASTIC! I really need some new visitors. Thanks so so much! Love, Emily/AGE-sciencegirlem


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