It looks like the Scratch programming toolkit has now gone public. Scratch is a programming language developed at MIT that lets people, including young students, create interactive stories, games, music, and art. The Lifelong Kindergarten Group (is that a great sounding name or what?) that is part of MIT’s famous Medial Lab has been working on this project for a while. Until now it has been available only as a limited beta and as part of projects the developers have been directly involved in.
Scratch uses various blocks that represent coding instructions that are dragged and dropped into location to set the order for processing. It’s like Alice is some ways but different in others. The web site has a section for teachers that includes information on using Scratch with students. There is also a section highlighting some of the research that has been done with Scratch so far.
This is a tool that looks very promising especially with younger students. The developers have been using it with children ages 10 to 16. Take a look. I’d love to hear opinions from teachers on the front lines.