Tuesday, 28 April 2015

What does it mean? Scratch terms you need to know



A brief guide to some of the key terms and features of popular coding tool Scratch.


Scratch is swiftly becoming one of the most popular tools for teaching coding in the classroom. We definitely recommend it - it's great fun and simplifies the programming process really well - but it does come with its own lingo, which teachers will need to know before they start using it with pupils.

The techno-whizz need go no further. This guide is for anyone who thinks hats are for heads, stages are for theatres and Sprite is a fizzy drink of lemon and lime.


Scratch user interface - Includes everything needed to create a project. On the left is the stage and sprite list, in the centre the blocks palette (filled with click-and-drag code fragments called ‘blocks’ - see below), and on the right the scripts/costumes/sounds editors.

Blocks - Puzzle-piece shapes which snap together to create code. There are 12 categories of blocks, including motion, looks, sound, pen, control, sensing, operators, and variables.

Sprites - Objects which are used to make up Scratch projects. They can be user-created, uploaded, or found in the sprites library.

Costume - Images used to define how a sprite looks. Costumes may be of these image formats: JPG, BMP, PNG, or GIF. Each sprite as at least one costume, but can have more – for example, the position of the arms and legs of a dancing sprite may change as it moves.

Stage - The term for the background of the project. It can have scripts, backdrops and sounds. No sprites can move behind the stage - the stage is always at the back layer.

Backdrop - Costumes for the stage. Backdrops are used to change the appearance of the stage.

Script - A collection or stack of blocks that all interlock with one another. They determine how the sprites interact with each other and the backdrop.

Hat block - The block used to start a script – for example, the hat block may program a game to begin when the green flag is clicked. Hat blocks are designed to sit at the top of a script, and no block can be place on top of them.

Green flag - A button which, when clicked, will start all scripts in that project that are hatted with the ‘When Green Flag Clicked’ block.

Stop sign - A button which, when clicked, stops the running project immediately.

Project sharing - Allows others to view your projects, look inside them, and remix them. To share your project, click the ‘share’ button in the orange bar above the project screen. Sharing a project shares it with users all over the world, so avoid including any personal information.

Project notes - Notes that accompany a shared project, explaining to others what the project is about and how to use it. They appear to the right of a shared project’s webpage, and are visible to all users.

For more information, visit: wiki.scratch.mit.edu/wiki/Scratch_Wiki_Home.

For ideas for using Scratch in the classroom, see Dylan Ryder's article, Starting from Scratch, in the most recent issue of Creative Teaching and Learning magazine.

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