ScratchJr iPad app to give children the coding bug

‘Give me a child for his first seven years and I’ll give you the man’ seemed to work for the Jesuits as their maxim, something researchers at the Massachussets Institute of Technology have taken to heart when seeking to train a new generation of coders.

ScratchJr, a new ipad app, is the result. A Kickstarter funded educational tool designed to inspire schoolchildren to adopt the Scratch programming language and ‘code to learn’.

Designed for use by 5-7 year olds in tandem with the Playful Invention Company and Tufts University’s Developmental Technologies team, the free app guides pupils to program ‘interactive stories’ using a graphical interface and has been made possible thanks to the generosity of Kickstarter users - who have stumped up $77,474 to realise the project.

Tufts professor Marina Umaschi Bers, said in a statement: “Coding is the new literacy. Just as writing helps you organize your thinking and express your ideas, the same is true for coding.” MIT’s Mitchel Resnick added: “In the past, coding was seen as too difficult for most people. But we think coding should be for everyone, just like writing.”

Backed by the National Science Foundation, Code-to-Learn Foundation, Lego Foundation and BT the app is being marketed as a ‘code to learn’ technique which brings spin-off benefits to attainment in maths, problem solving and language.

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