Typically, all the Ninjas start their programming journey using a graphical programming environment, known as ‘Scratch’.
Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In the early years, it’s important to keep the interest of the Ninjas. Using Scratch, the young people learn as they create interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art using a graphical interface.
As they develop their own games, apps, etc, they learn mathematical and computational ideas that are built into the Scratch experience.
They learn core computational concepts such as iteration and conditionals and they also gain an understanding of important mathematical concepts such as coordinates, variables, and random numbers.
When students learn about variables in traditional algebra classes, they usually don’t feel connected to the concept. But when they learn about variables in the context of Scratch, they can use variables immediately in very meaningful ways:
For example, to control the speed of an animation, or to keep track of the score in a game they are creating.
They also learn about the process of design, how to create a prototype, then how to debug it when things go wrong.
They’ll also learn how to find answers to problems themselves, using the ‘Ask Three then Me‘ philosophy of the CoderDojo Foundation.
We encourage the Ninjas to work on projects that interest them.
Once they’re confident and competent in Scratch, they can move on to other computer programming languages like Python, or C.
Or, maybe even develop their own Android App?
Learning a text based programming language is too complicated at first. But, after learning the principles using Scratch, the young coders have a better idea of the sequences and processes of the code, making it a much easier transition.
If you’d like to learn more about Scratch, you can head over the MIT, Scratch website, or watch the video below.