Monday, November 18, 2013

Scratch vs. Javascript

With some of the students fairly proficient with Scratch, I went to LearnStreet to set up a Javascript (JS) course with learn, practice, and project tutorials.  Here are some of their initial reactions to my questions:

How does Scratch compare with Javascript?  What are the similarities and differences?

"I think they're kind of the same because when you're doing Scratch, you're trying to program something to do something and JS, you're trying to program too.  But JS is different, because it gives you specific things to do.  JS is probably harder than Scratch because in Scratch, you can pretty much make it do anything you want and it's pretty easy because you're just dragging blocks, but in JS, you need to spell right and do everything exact.  With both of them, you have to think about, 'what would happen if...' but in JS you have to think that more strictly."

"For example, on Scratch, you can just drag a plus block, while with Java, you have to remember to type in 5 +5.  Also, they're different because on JS, you can do more things like you can do changing variables without having to tons of lines of code.  In Scratch, you just drag a block and another block and keep dragging until you have full code.  In JS, you have to type in your commands, but I think you can do much more in some commands like if you were trying to change a variable to two things that were joined, you can use one command while on Scratch, you need to use two blocks and two strings."

I am really interested in finding out whether or not they notice that a lot of the computational thinking is still there, no matter what the 'language' of coding is.  Algorithms, loops, conditionals, variables.  Breaking down problems.  Solving them.  On this first day of learning JS, my students seem to notice the differences more than the similarities.  I am keen to see what happens as they become more fluent in JS.

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