This week’s STEAM At Home project will teach you a little about coding, without needing a computer.
- Printable Scratch Blocks (or you can make your own!)
- Tape – scotch and masking tape
- Another Person
Scratch.mit is a website used for teaching simple coding and computational thinking. You drag and drop blocks into your work area to create a program, the coding is done in the background. They use visuals, simple language, and a snapping feature to fit your blocks together, making it easy to write a computer program. You need a computer and internet connection to work on this program. You also need to create an account. Today’s project will let you play with this coding program without any technology, some basic materials and a person.
Find some printable scratch blocks on the internet, you can do a Google search, or click on this link. You will want to print several pages for this project. You will need a number of “movement” blocks for this project. You could also make your own scratch blocks using these as images. You can make them whatever color you want them to be. It is best to use thicker paper for printing, especially if you make them big, or manila folders if you are creating your own.
Once you have them cut out it’s time to learn what some of them mean.
Scratch blocks are color coded in groups signifying what they do. These are Motion, Looks, Sounds, Events, Control, Sensing, Operators and Variables. There are more blocks that have come in updates but we don’t need to worry about those now. The blocks have different shapes and fit together in different ways. For example, some blocks, like Control blocks, have space to fit another block inside of them. Blocks that are shaped like an oval can fit into circular areas of other blocks. There are lots of different ways that these blocks can join together to create a computer code.
The ones that you will want to use in this project are mostly Motion, but you can find ways to include Sound, Sensors and Looks to make this a little more fun.
We are almost ready to start coding, but first we have to figure out what to code. Your project today is to program a human robot, like your parent, sibling or friend, to do something. I would suggest to start simple, like having them walk from one room to another without hitting something. If they crash into a wall or table, it would be like your code is crashing. After that see what you can do to spice it up a bit and make it more difficult.
Now it is time to code. The first block you will need to add is a Control block that says “When Green Flag is clicked.” Put that at the top of your blank piece of paper and tape it down. I can’t get into exactly what this means, so just think of it as the start program block.
Next start adding blocks below. You may want your human robot to stand in a specific place to start moving. You may have to count out steps or figure out how much to turn at different points. Then have fun and make them say something funny. Tape each block below the previous one and make sure they fit together. You will see on the blocks that they should slide in or snap together like puzzle pieces. If they don’t join together, then your code is no good and you will need to rewrite it.
When you are done, or think you’re done, get your human robot to read the code, following the instructions line by line and see what happens.