China / Education

Celebration event for young programmers

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily) Updated: 2016-04-27 08:07

For the first time, China will form part of a global network of events held annually to promote a free programming language for children developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Scratch is a programming environment aimed at beginners, offering an introduction to the world of computer animation, game, and interactive story creation.

The aim of Scratch Day, which falls on May 14, is to celebrate the young people who use the programming language and their creations.

More than 250 locations worldwide are involved in the event, including the debut this year of Beijing and Chengdu, according to Chinese co-host Raising Culture. On the day, participants aged 10 to 14 will create interactive stories, games and animations using Scratch and share their finished projects with millions of other users around the world.

Mitch Resnick, an MIT professor and founder of the event, expects Scratch Day China to inspire Chinese students to fulfill their dreams.

"Young people today have lots of experience interacting with new technologies, but a lot less so creating with new technologies and expressing themselves with new technologies. It's almost as if they can read, but can't write," said Resnick, the current head of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab.

"Coding isn't just for computer whizzes, it's for everyone. I want to welcome Chinese children to Scratch Day here in Beijing, it's so exciting to see young people coming out to design, create, and do creative things with Scratch."

According to Raising Culture, the Beijing leg of Scratch Day will involve 150 participants, although more than 500 applications have been received, while the Chengdu event will welcome 120 participants selected by the local education authority.

Veronica Li, director of international programs at Raising Culture, said the day will help create a bridge between Chinese children and other imaginative youngsters around the world.

"We hope to create a platform for kids to experience and share the joy of learning and creating through computer technology across time and space," she said.

Scratch Day China will begin with a briefing on the event's background and rules, followed by a training session on Scratch use.

Participants will then be tasked with creating animations and games before finishing the contest by offering a randomly-chosen design for the judges' review. The event is a nonprofit cause with no fees charged for participants.

Chen Jiayi, a student from Beijing Yumin Primary School who has signed up for the event, said he was excited to take part.

"Scratch could help implement my creative ideas rather than just drawing them on paper using a pen. As a young techno freak, I am looking forward to meeting more like-minded friends at the event," he said.

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