Scratch and Alice

I was doing some reading the other day and came across a couple of programming languages and integrated development environments (IDEs) that I may use to introduce my oldest son to scripting/programming. Scratch is the one that I think I will start with first as it looks to be a bit less complicated than Alice. Obviously, because Scratch is less complicated, the capabilities of the language are more limited than Alice, but I know that I would have been very happy with something like this (read: given my left arm for it) when I was initially exploring computers in the 5th and 6th grade.

I am not sure whether he would be interested in this or not, but I would like to expose him to scripting/programming early on to see if it would be something he has an aptitude for and will take a liking to. He is a very logical thinker and a visual learner so a simple IDE where he can manipulate certain aspects of the script he is building and see the results fairly quickly would be a very good thing for him. I was often frustrated (even still am at times) with the amount of coding/compiling that has to take place for something moderately useful to get done in some of the higher languages like Java or even TCL (which doesn't need to get compiled, but can be a bit steep to learn).

That is one of the advantages of scripting as it is something that I can see results in right away. Alice and Scratch are the same way, but one of the key advantages to their implementations is the IDE where there is minimal typing involved. This will help him overcome the errors that creep in when there are typos, misplaced brackets, etc. and allow him to snap together blocks to build some pretty nifty animations and games.

I will let you know how it goes. It will be interesting and, hopefully, fun for him and me.


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