0

May 15, 2017 AT 7:00 am

Using Scratch to Feed Hacker Values into Young Minds

NewImage

Via Backchannel

Last year, I went to Nigeria with Mark Zuckerberg. One of the first stops on the trip was a program that taught kids how to code. When Zuckerberg entered the room, many of the young students had a hard time pulling themselves away from their projects, even to gawk at one of the world’s richest men. Facebook’s founder instead came to them. “What are you making?” he’d ask. And they would proudly say, “A game!” or whatever it was, and begin showing him how it works. Zuckerberg would stop them. “Show me the code!” he’d say, because, well, he’s Zuckerberg, and any occasion is ripe for an ad hoc programming review. And that’s when the kid would click on a menu that toggled from the game to the LEGO-like building blocks of a Scratch program.

This happened several times, with kids ranging from ages 8 to 15. In every instance, the maker of a cool project could clearly show this famous visitor how he or she had methodically implemented a plan. Zuckerberg was clearly impressed. As we headed up the stairs to leave the building, Zuckerberg called out to me, “Scratch! Have you heard of this?”

Oh, yes I had. Though it was not yet released to the world when Zuckerberg left Harvard to launch his quirky little startup, Scratch (developed just a couple of T stops away) is quickly becoming the world’s most popular computer language for kids taking their first bite of programming. Last year, over 120 million people came to its site, and many of them built and shared projects, at a rate of a million a month. “It’s the gateway drug for Silicon Valley engineering,” says Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, a Scratch supporter.

But I also knew that Scratch, celebrating its 10th anniversary this month, was something more than training wheels. A product of the MIT Media Lab, Scratch is steeped in a complicated set of traditions—everything from educational philosophy to open source activism and the pursuit of artificial life. The underpinnings of this tool subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, convey a set of values through its use. So while those kids in Nigeria were hopping onto a stepping stone to a computer science career, they were also absorbing a very specific and in some ways quirky set of values that could be called hackerish, in the classic sense. These values include reverence of logic, an unshakeable belief in the power of collaboration, and a celebration of the psychic and tangible rewards of being a maker.

Read more.


Check out all the Circuit Playground Episodes! Our new kid’s show and subscribe!

Have an amazing project to share? Join the SHOW-AND-TELL every Wednesday night at 7:30pm ET on Google+ Hangouts.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Learn resistor values with Mho’s Resistance or get the best electronics calculator for engineers “Circuit Playground”Adafruit’s Apps!


Maker Business — Kickstarter Hardware Studio

Wearables — A soft glow

Electronics — Through Hole SMD

Biohacking — Ultra Runner Kilian Jornet Summits Everest in 26 Hours

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !



No Comments

No comments yet.


Leave a comment

Adafruit has a "be excellent to each other" comment policy. Help us keep the community here positive and helpful. Stick to the topic, be respectful of makers of all ages and skill levels. Be kind, and don't spam - Thank you!

Prove you are human by reading this resistor:

0Ω+/- 5%

0
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

0
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

0
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

5
5
10

Prove you are human by reading this resistor:


Match the sliders on the left to each color band on the resistor.

Click Here for a new resistor image.

New to electronics? Click here to learn how to read resistor values.

Or learn to read resistors by playing Mho's Resistance!