The National Scratch Coding Competition was held at the University of Limerick, bringing together the top scoring teams from all over the country. School students aged six and up across five age categories were invited to demonstrate their Scratch projects to the judges.
This year saw over 160 entries nationwide to the competition. According to Clare McInerney, Lero’s EPE Programme Manager, “The standard for this year’s competition has been incredibly high, it was a very difficult task for our judges this year. I want to say a huge congratulations to everyone that took part in this year’s competition. The Scratch programme provides young students with real, hands-on coding experience and highlights how important it is our everyday lives.”
Scratch programming offers several benefits for young people, making it an excellent platform for introducing them to the world of coding and computational thinking.
Scratch is designed to be user-friendly and accessible, even for beginners. The drag-and-drop interface eliminates the need for typing complex code, making it easier for young learners to focus on logical and creative aspects of programming.
The visual nature of Scratch allows users to create programs by snapping together code blocks. This visual representation helps young learners understand the logic of coding concepts without getting bogged down by syntax errors, promoting a deeper understanding of programming principles.
Scratch encourages creativity by enabling users to create interactive stories, animations, games, and more. It provides a platform for young people to express themselves through coding, combining logic and creativity in a way that is both engaging and enjoyable.
Programming inherently involves problem-solving. As young people work on projects in Scratch, they develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They learn to break down problems into smaller, manageable parts and devise solutions.
Scratch has a vibrant online community where users can share their projects, collaborate with others, and learn from different perspectives. This collaborative aspect fosters a sense of community and provides opportunities for young programmers to learn from each other.
Scratch introduces fundamental principles of computational thinking, such as sequencing, loops, conditionals, and variables. These concepts form the building blocks of more advanced programming languages and problem-solving approaches.
While Scratch uses a visual interface, it provides a solid foundation for transitioning to text-based programming languages. Once young learners grasp programming concepts in Scratch, they can more easily understand the syntax and logic of traditional coding languages.
In Ireland, the use of Scratch as an introduction to coding for young people has proved to be a popular and successful best practice.
Cross-Disciplinary Learning: Scratch projects often involve elements of storytelling, art, and design. This interdisciplinary approach helps young people see the connections between coding and other fields, encouraging a broader perspective on the applications of programming skills.
Inclusive Learning: Scratch is designed to be inclusive, catering to a wide range of ages and abilities. It provides an environment where both novices and more advanced learners can explore and challenge themselves at their own pace.
Preparation for Future Careers: In an increasingly digital world, understanding the basics of coding is a valuable skill. Scratch introduces young people to the foundations of programming, fostering an interest in technology and potentially paving the way for future careers in STEM fields.
Overall, Scratch programming offers a fun and interactive way for young people to learn the principles of coding, fostering creativity, problem-solving skills, and a positive attitude toward technology