Tag Archives: computer science

5 New Features in Scratch 3.0

Scratch is the popular, free program that introduces programming to kids using graphical blocks. The MIT team who created Scratch have announced a new version – Scratch 3.0. It’s expected to be out in a Beta version in August and fully launched in January 2019. At TechnoKids, we’ve been working with a Preview version to design TechnoCode and are excited to see some great new updates.

Scratch 3

The new Scratch 3.0 editor is clear and easy to use.

Scroll to See

Often the script area can get crowded if there’s lots of code and it’s difficult to organize on a small screen. Happily, now there’s a scroll bar so you can spread groups of code apart and arrange them without worrying about running out of space.

Bigger Blocks

Scratch 3

The coding blocks are bigger in the new version. This was done to help those who working on tablets so that’s it easier to select and drag them, but I find them easier to find and move on a desktop computer as well. And if you don’t want to use the Blocks Palette to pick a block category, you can scroll through all categories of blocks in a single list.

Sprite Information

Scratch 3

To see or change the name, features or information such as size, location, and direction of a sprite you had to press the i on the sprite icon in Scratch 2.0.

In the newer version, all of this information about the sprite is clearly visible right below the stage. You can easily make changes or refer to it at any time as you’re working.

Choose a Sprite Library

Scratch 3 choose sprite

Now it’s easier to find sprites with multiple costumes. In Scratch 2.0 you have to click on a sprite and see if, under the name, there’s a number of costumes listed or if it there’s only one.

In the newer version, hold the mouse pointer over the Choose a Sprite icon and select the magnifying glass to open the library. By just holding the mouse pointer over a sprite in the search gallery, the sprite is animated through all of its poses if there are more than one.
You can actually view the various costumes rather than just seeing a number.

Sound Editor

Scratch 3 robot

The new sound editor has been changed. Recording and trimming are easier. New categories in the sound library include Space, Sports, and Wacky.

What we especially like are the new sound effects that you can apply – Echo and Robot. Kids will have lots of fun being creative with these sound effects.

Scratch Lessons for Kids

TechnoCode, a Scratch project, has programming lesson plans. The activities support STEM education. The instructional materials include a FREE upgrade to Scratch 3.

Scratch lessons for kids

Introduce students to programming concepts using Scratch.

Computer Science Learning Standards

As educators, we agree that STEM education matters. The focus on science, technology, engineering, and math not only prepares young people for the jobs of tomorrow, but also builds the vital skills of design, logical thinking, problem solving, and trouble shooting. We recognize the need for students to develop computer literacy but more than just being confident users of technology, we want to encourage a culture of innovation. This has in turn generated a specific interest in computer science and programming as an essential component of the technology curriculum.

computer science scratch

Schools have recognized the need for students in all grades to develop a foundation in programming. The appearance of robotics in classrooms, coding clubs, and graphical, block-based programming languages such as Scratch, ScratchJr, and Blockly allow even primary students to develop an interest in being builders and creators of technology.

So now we’re committed to the value of computer science in our classrooms. But what exactly are the fundamental and critical skills that we should be teaching? A set of core guidelines can help teachers to develop computer science curriculum that introduces the fundamental concepts, engages students to develop an interest in coding, and fosters computational thinking, creativity, perseverance, collaboration, and all the other valuable skills that programming provides. Some schools, school boards, and states have written their own standards but if teachers don’t have a required set of learning standards, there are many resources available.

Computer Science Standards

Here’s a list of sites with computer science standards. Is there one that works for you? Or, combine ideas and create your own.

Computer Science Teachers Association

  • clear, user-friendly set of learning standards
  • 3 levels: k-6, 6-9, 9-12
  • Strands: Computational Thinking, Collaboration, Computing Practice and Programming, Computer and Communications Devices, Community, Global, and Ethical Impacts

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)

  • includes all areas of technology
  • recently edited to include Innovative Designer and Computational Thinker as two of seven strands, reflecting the significance of process, logical thinking, and breaking a problem into a sequence of steps

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)

  • divided into elementary K-2 and 3-5, middle 6, 7, 8, and high school levels
  • programming and designing solutions first mentioned in K-2
  • high school includes specific standards for Computer Science, Game Programming and Design, Robotics Programming and Design, and many more

Next Generation Science Standards

  • search and download by level or topic
  • science-based, but includes Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science citing the importance of computational thinking, breaking down problems into smaller parts, and real-world applications
  • international; referenced by robotics kits manufacturers such as Lego (Click on Educational Standards to see Common Core and NGSS correlation in this sample) and VEX IQ (VEX IQ Curriculum Education Standards lists learning objectives for its online units)

Prince Edward Island Career and Technical Education: Robotics

  • specific to robotics in Grades 10-12
  • samples of rubrics, rating scales, reflection logbooks, and learning journals

Of course there are many more computer science standards documents online. If you have one to add to the list, please let me know!

Scratch Learning Objectives

If Scratch is part of your curriculum, you may want to refer to the Scratch Skill Summary from TechnoCode. This assessment tool includes a checklist of learning objectives. They are categorized by the headings: applied technology, computer science, Scratch coding, graphic design, and digital citizenship. The document might spark some ideas for developing your own computer science standards.

Scratch learning objectives.

Scratch learning objectives. Checklist from TechnoCode, a TechnoKids STEM project.

6 Reasons to Teach Programming to Your Students

HTML and CSS Lessons for Beginners

Teach your students how to build a web page using HTML and CSS code.

Should you teach programming skills to middle and high school students? Yes!

Top 6 Reasons to Teach Programming to Your Students

  1. Learn Computational Thinking Skills:
    Programming makes a student think logically by using algorithms – step-by-step instructions to perform a function. If any of the steps are incorrect or inaccurate, the result has an error. Learning to code requires students to build, practice, and reinforce this type of analytic thinking.
  2. Build Problem Solving Strategies:
    Making an error when coding results in immediate feedback: “Something is wrong!” The ability to review, diagnose, and edit code as well as the perseverance needed to solve problems are not only important for coding, but indispensable life skills as well.
  3. Practice Higher Level Thinking Skills:
    Language, Math, and Social Sciences teach comprehension, recall, and application learning processes. The analytic aspect of writing code is a valuable higher level thinking skill. Programmers often refer to the task of coding as ‘learning to think’. The designing, planning, and creating aspects of programming also build these advanced cognitive competencies.
  4. Prepare for Career Opportunities:
    Computer Science is the ‘new literacy’ for the next century. Computer programming is a valuable skill in the digital age. Jobs for computer scientists are growing with the demand exceeding the supply. Programming is not just a key skill in the information technology industry, but in many other areas, for example:

    • Manufacturing – designing ways to improve products and production techniques
    • Healthcare – managing research data, patient information, security
    • Retail – handling inventory management and projecting trends
    • Weather forecasting – developing models to predict severe weather
    • Arts – creating digital music
    • Financial services – managing trading and ensuring security
  5. Create Technologies, Don’t Just Learn to Use Them:
    Technology products used today will quickly become outdated. If we focus only on teaching students how to use devices such as computer apps, smartphones, and tablets, they become passive users. Students can develop a deeper understanding of how digital devices work, how they are created, and how they can be improved by studying the coding needed to run them.
  6. Empower Students:
    When students successfully complete a coding challenge, they feel a real sense of satisfaction and gratification. Students are motivated and engaged in coding tasks. Seeing programming come to life as a web page, app, or other result is exceptionally rewarding.

Consider adding computer programming to your technology curriculum. Your students will benefit right away and in the future.

If you are planning to teach programming refer to the TechnoHTML5 project. It has HTML and CSS lessons for middle school and high school students. The activities are perfect for beginners. Don’t worry if you are new to coding. The instructional materials include detailed assignments, assessment tools, sample files, templates, and enrichment activities. View HTML and CSS lessons from TechnoHTML5.