By Sanjana Shah, Girls Innovate! Teen Committee
Steve and Kate’s Camp at Carey School had around 250 kids assembled. They were all energized and ready to experience first-hand programming using Scratch. It was amazing to see how kids kept filling the hall, making it a full house. Neatly seated in rows and staring at the large projector screen, they were eager to see something fun and exciting. Most of them were elementary-school-aged kids, ranging from about 5-10 years old. I introduced myself and the Girls Innovate! team and described the agenda for the next 45 minutes.
I started the presentation by showing a couple of videos about Scratch programming. Kids were glued to the projector screen, as the videos showed how easy it is to add or modify their favorite cartoon characters and make them do things that they could have not imagined. This was the introduction to Scratch.
In the second part of presentation, I showed various modules that fit together so easily to create a lively cartoonish experience. The kids were kept engaged in answering questions as to which character they might like to animate and what kind of sounds they would use. In one attempt, I recorded the kids’ loud random combined voices and showed them how to integrate it with the actions of the animated character. I aimed to keep everything at elementary school grade level, periodically focusing on getting them alert and keeping them engaged and amused. At the end of the presentation, I showed them various Scratch projects that others have done.
Finally, we had a Q&A session during which, to my surprise, kids asked very pertinent questions. These ranged from how much it costs to use Scratch, to what to do if one doesn’t know how to read yet. Some older kids expressed interest in knowing what my favorite Scratch games are and how to get in touch with me in case of any questions. I shared my email address and motivated them to stay in touch by sharing the games that they build.
Time just flew by. It was as much a learning experience for me as much as – I hope – a fun experience to the kids. I will try to find ways to create this experience again in hopes of spreading knowledge and ideas about something as fun and simple as Scratch programming to kids of all ages.