Scratch is the industry-standard for introducing students to programming.

THE OUTCOME

Here’s a simple video game that covers the basics.

THE PROCESS

IDEATION

Scratch is an application and web app developed by MIT. It has become the international standard for teaching programming principles to students.  Students can begin programming quickly by combing code blocks, shaped like puzzle pieces, to create programs. The code blocks program the movements of objects, or “sprites,” on the program’s interface.

IMPLEMENTATION

This lesson plan has been developed to introduce students with no experience to programming concepts. I’ve used this plan in 10 workshops, with middle school high school students.

Classroom structure

In each workshop, we provided one computer for each pair of students. I had the help of an assistant who would help groups that encountered bugs in their program.

The lesson plan

During each of the workshops, I had the students develop a simple game in Scratch. By the end of the workshop, each student will create game in which the user is a fish, trying to escape a hungry shark. We begin by programming the movements of the fish, which are controlled by each arrow on the keyboard. We add a shark to the game, and program the shark to orient itself depending on the movements of the fish. If time permits, we give the user 3 lives, before “game over.”

Computer programming concepts

Students are introduced to a number of fundamental concepts in programming. By programming the movements of the shark, students familiarize themselves with the concept of a loop, which continually executes. We also teach students programming logic, and use an “if” statement to check whether the shark is touching the fish. Students learn how if statements can conditionally execute blocks of code, thereby adding logic to our simple program.