While one group of students are investigating the 3D printer, I have another group exploring yet another technological territory. It started two years ago when one of my boys found a program called “Scratch“. He tried to tell me about how you could learn to code by using it. I was not willing to investigate computer programming back then. I saw it as “game-playing” and failed to see its educational value. Lucky for me, this student persisted and continued to produce “games” for others to play. It wasn’t until I saw the Hour of Code website that I finally understood what he saw as game playing, could be turned into mathematical thinking and problem solving skills. I told him that he could start teaching the class. He was beyond ecstatic! Within a day he created a Google Slide presentation and used morning meeting time to teach my entire class how to code.
The students who are intrigued by learning how to code have created a team. They work together during recess to produce, collaborate, critique, and learn to create new code. While some of their projects have focused on school topics such as simple machines and Ancient Greece, other games have been made for birthday presents, fun, and competition. One of their recent games, “Wipeout” , was the featured game on the Scratch site receiving over 39,000 hits.
The Scratch team has presented at our talented and gifted committee and were invited as presenters to a local elementary school career day. Together they ran four sessions to teach about 60 lower elementary children how to code. The excitement we all felt was beyond words. I know we are onto something here! All it took was for one boy to “Scratch” the surface.