Liza Jaipaul, Correspondent12:00 p.m. ET Feb. 23, 2017
EDISON - It’s called Scratch. And children at the Edison branch of the YMCA of Metuchen, Edison, Woodbridge and South Amboy love using it to create their own interactive stories, games, animations and simulations.
Children 8 to 16 attend classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the YMCA.
- “Scratch is a lot of fun. We can make our own video games.”
- “It lets them be creative and enjoy using concepts like math.”
- “It allows student to implement math and creative concepts, so they actually see their knowledge being applied.”
“The idea came about as we are starting to introduce STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) into our curriculum,” said Cindy O’Neill, director of operations at the Edison YMCA. “People in the community has expressed an interest in more of these types of programs.”
Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. With Scratch, you can make games, interactive stories and more and share them with others in the online community. The goal of Scratch is to help young people “think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively.”
Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to make all different kinds of creative projects. It teaches you about programming, while using geometry, logic, relationship concepts, pre-algebra and more.
Scratch, at the YMCA, is an eight-week course, and as it progresses each week students learn more and more.
“We plan to expand the program to other branches of the Y, as it has been so successful. The children really enjoy seeing their programs come to fruition,” said O’Neill.
The program was started at the Edison YMCA, and they are in the process of starting classes at other branches in Metuchen and South Amboy soon, as well.
“We are also exploring the possibility of starting Scratch Jr., for 5- to 7-year olds,” said O’Neill.
Logan Arkoulakis-Siegel, 11, said, “Scratch is a lot of fun. We can make our own video games.”
Scratch Program Instructor Brandon Corujo, said, “It’s a great program. It allows students to implement math and creative concepts, so they actually see their knowledge being applied.”
He added that students can share their work online, so others could see it and use it.
Corujo said students didn’t need a skill set to take the class.
“It’s a very simple program. The older kids pick it up very quickly, and the youngers might take a little more time," Corujo said. "The really enjoy the fact they can create these awesome games and animation and then share them online." He said Scratch also reinforces much of what students learn in school.
“It lets them appreciate math, logic and how to program," he said. "If they do want to take a computer science course down the road, it will build that understanding from an early age. They love creating, and uploading their own mazes or drawings.”
Corujo added, “It lets kids be creative and enjoy using concepts like math and teaches them how to manipulate, and use X and Y for something like throwing the ball, so they learn projectile motion from physics. They learn about math in a pong game, but they learn it in a fun way and can see math concepts and how they are applied. It makes a lot of kids understand how fun it can be to use math and physics to create fun things.”
For more information, visit https://www.media.mit.edu/research/groups/lifelong-kindergarten or https://scratch.mit.edu. For more information on the Y, visit http://www.ymcaofmewsa.org.
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