A free iPad app called ScratchJr, which was created by the MIT Media Lab with help from Tufts University and the Playful Invention Company (PICO), says it can teach children between the ages of 5 and 8 how to code.
MIT and its “Lifelong Kindergarten Group” developed the Scratch programming language alongside to make it easy for kids to create “stories, games and animations,” but Forbes’ Jordan Shapiro said the Scratch team redesigned and simplified the interface to make it more accessible for younger kids.
“I downloaded ScratchJr and then handed the iPad to my six year old,” Shapiro writes. “He was instantly engaged.”
According to Mitchell Resnick, one of the creators of the Scratch language, “traditional programming languages were not designed with kids in mind,” but the original experience was really built for children 8 years and up. So the Scratch team tapped Marina Bers, a professor of child development at Tufts University, to create a programming language that was “appropriate for younger children, carefully designing features to match young children’s cognitive, personal, social, and emotional development.”
“As children code with Scratch and ScratchJr, they learn strategies for solving problems, designing projects, and communicating ideas,” Resnick said. “They learn how to divide complex problems into simpler parts, how to iteratively refine and improve their work, how to remix and build on the work of others, how to persevere in the face of challenges. These skills are important for everyone, not just people who will grow up to become scientists, engineers, or computer scientists.”
Check out Forbes’ full interview with Resnick here, and watch the video detailing the ScratchJr app below.
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