November 2020

Middle School curriculum

Middle School Curriculum

Dear Panda Programmer,

My son is in middle school and would like to learn how to code.  I saw that you teach middle school students as well as elementary school students.  How are they in the same programming class?  Aren’t the ages too disparate?  And would a middle schooler begin with Scratch, or Python, or ScratchJr?  Thanks in advance,

Pam in New York City

Who uses Scratch? and What is ScratchJr?

Many parents ask us: Who uses Scratch? and What is ScratchJr?

These are two interesting but very different questions!  (and they come up often as we teach coding for kids) Scratch vs ScratchJR:

Scratch is used by many people from all backgrounds, in all countries around the world. The last count we are aware of is 43 million registered users! They use it in all types of settings: schools, libraries, homes, museums, community locations, and more.  Scratch was created by the MIT Media Lab.  Scratch is designed especially for young people ages between 7 and 16, but people of all ages create and share with Scratch. Traditionally younger children tend to use ScratchJr, a simplified version of Scratch designed for ages 5 to 6.  And that’s the “Scratch” part of the Scratch vs ScratchJR comparison.

ScratchJr is an introductory programming language that enables young children (ages 5-6) to create their own interactive stories and games. ScratchJr users do not need to know how to type! Children snap together graphical programming blocks to make characters move, jump, dance, and sing. While the programs in ScratchJr are simpler than those of Scratch, the logical thinking required to create ScratchJr programs is remarkably the same. Children can modify ScratchJr characters in the paint editor, add their own voices and sounds, even insert photos of themselves — then use the programming blocks to make their custom characters come to life.
ScratchJr is available as a free app for both iPad and Android tablets.  That wraps up the “ScratchJR” part of the Scratch vs ScratchJR comparison.

Fortunately our curriculum makes extensive use of both Scratch and ScratchJR!  Since our curriculum is self-paced, our students can make the most use of both platforms, advancing to Scratch when they are truly ready.