by Kara Eng, grade 12

In the Beginner’s Workshop for Scratch, children 8-12 learned the basics of using coding.

Scratch is a program designed to teach the basic logic of coding. In addition to allowing users to program with preset blocks of coding, there is a large library of programs that other users have created. Not only can users publish their programs for others to see and use, but you can see how every program was coded and add your own twists.

Due to limited numbers of computers available, participants had to register for the program ahead of time. There was a long waiting list, but, fortunately, quite a few of those on the waiting list were able to participate. Personally, I had no idea that planning programs took so much scheduling and calling in. I didn’t know that many of those that had registered might not show up, or that attendance would vary for each participant. Many of the participants already had some experience with Scratch and were familiar with the website and the blocks of coding.

I had created a lesson plan a few weeks prior to the start of the workshops, but was surprised to find that some lessons took longer than others while others were much faster than expected. It was both difficult and easy to adjust the time discrepancies. On the one hand, I could easily continue the last workshop’s lessons in the next one, but that meant that I wouldn’t be able to go through everything that I had planned. I also found it difficult to explain some of the concepts to the participants. It was hard to persuade some participants to try to create their own code rather than just copy my examples. I was thoroughly impressed by the creativity of the participants. Even when given very short prompts, many participants went all out, adding their own voice and style to the same code as their neighbors. While many had experience with Scratch, some did not. If participants arrived late or did not attend the previous workshop, I would have to give them a quick crash course in coding, a technique that was not as effective as the rest of the workshop.

Despite not being able to work through my entire lesson plan, I am quite satisfied with how the workshop went. I felt that the new participants really learned about coding, the pretty advanced coders learned a thing or two, and that most, if not all, of the participants will continue to check out Scratch programs and make their own.

Kara taught a series of Scratch workshops at Pasadena Central Library on August 8, 15, and 22.