Tue, 20 Aug, 2019

SCRATCH: A User-friendly Tool for Programming Beginners

By Ankit Pradhan

Photo Courtesy: DWIT News Harvard CS50 course is in progress at DWIT. As the first week of course has ended, Scratch has come in highlight nowadays among the students of DWIT.  Some of the students are enjoying Scratch while others are finding it boring. Scratch is actually a programming platform built by students of MIT for those who are completely new and are eager to learn programming. It is actually an interactive platform to learn programming and enjoy learning. Many students are enjoying the amalgam of fun and knowledge using this platform. Actually it is different from other platforms of programming. Why not try? In Scratch, we don’t need to type any code or program, it’s just putting our thought, our creativity and our logic through the use of some colorful blocks which has programs inbuilt within that isn’t visible to the users, and in just few minutes we can get desired outputs. It is an interactive platform. Many students at DWIT have used Scratch to make their own games, programs, animations, stories, comics and so forth. In Scratch, we don’t need to code; hence a majority of the programming beginners at DWIT are finding it easy and fun. Rojina Shrestha, second semester student at DWIT says, “Using Scratch is so much fun. I can get my creativity live and running!” Umesh Dhungana added, “Yes, Scratch is fun and easy. I made a snake game and a car game. I loved playing the games that I created using Scratch. Further, I loved getting appreciation from other friends who played the game I built.” However, some of the coding geeks are finding it boring. In Scratch, we can find different characters called sprites. Sprite is a very user friendly tool in Scratch. We can also create our own sprites as per our desire. There are other tools like Customize. Using this tool, we can customize or edit the sprites as per our wish. We can also put different sounds in our animation, games or stories. We can either choose the sound from Scratch itself or we can add sounds by ourselves. There is a flag and a red button at the top of the Scratch platform which is used to start and stop the program respectively. If we find something difficult then there is tips option at the top bar for help. You can also share your stories, games or application with others in the online community. Scratch helps everyone to think beyond the boundaries; they can be more creative. This platform is mainly designed for the age groups of 8 to 16, but everyone who is interested to learn programming can use Scratch as a beginners course. This application is generally used just to develop the concept of programming in learners and to attract their attention towards the programming field. The fundamental concepts of programming that Scratch beholds are loops, conditionals and variable use. By using Scratch, we can have an overview of how powerful programming is and the ways we can use programming. In Scratch, there are different tools like motion, looks, events, controls, sensing etc. that can be used to manipulate the sprites and to put our thoughts in real time operation. Recently at DWIT, many students have created their own games, stories and animation using Scratch. We could find many students doing some small projects, that is, making games in Scratch and having fun. Many students were excited and happy as they were playing self made games for the first time. By using Scratch, we could see that many students have gained some kind of self-confidence that they can really develop many things using programming. Sudarshan Guruacharya, the mentor of Harvard CS50 course, says, “Syntax is just distraction. The heart and soul of programming is logic, and Scratch helps people use their logic to produce something visible and usable. Further, it incites people to ponder upon what exactly is within the blocks that can be used while programming in Scratch. Moreover, there are features in Scratch which give users overview of different concepts under programming. Example, broadcasting and cloning in Scratch are somehow the concepts of object oriented programming.  Yes, it is very easy to use and do not suit core programmers but it helps people give life to their creativity and motivate them into programming. The motto of the founders of Scratch was ‘Forever Kindergarten’.” Scratch can indeed be referred to as the spark of fire that will bring the light to those students who really find programming boring.