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MIT Media Lab Trains Tiny Computer Programmers

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab has recently launched a program aimed at training tiny computer programmers. This innovative initiative empowers children ages 5-7 to learn about computer programming and digital technology.

The program, called the “ScratchJr Club,” allows children to learn programming using ScratchJr, a programming language designed for young children. ScratchJr Club was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab and has gained popularity worldwide for its simple and fun approach to teaching coding.

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Michael Resnick is head of the MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten Research Group. The existing programs were for older children, so Marina Bers of Tufts University helped innovate an app to fit the cognitive and communication skills of the youngest computer programmers. The app was inspired by Resnick’s Computer Clubhouse Project, which holds after-school programs for low-income kids to learn computer skills in a fun, interactive setting. The project, partly funded by Intel, has expanded into 20 countries and teaches more than 20,000 students a year.

ScratchJr is an intuitive, visual programming language specifically designed for young children. It uses colorful blocks that children can drag and drop to create simple programs that animate characters on a screen. The software is free and can be downloaded on any tablet or smartphone, making it accessible to a wide range of families.

The ScratchJr Club program aims to help children develop computational thinking, problem-solving skills, creativity, and collaboration. Children learn how to create simple animations, interactive stories, and games that they can share with their peers. This program encourages children to think critically, express themselves creatively, and engage with technology in a meaningful way.

The ScratchJr Club program is currently offered in several schools and community centers across the United States. The program has received positive feedback from both children and parents, who appreciate the engaging and interactive nature of the curriculum. The program has also been praised for its ability to teach children important skills that are relevant to the digital age.

The ScratchJr Club is not the only program aimed at teaching children programming skills. Several other initiatives have been launched in recent years, including “Code.org” and “Girls Who Code.” These programs empower children, particularly those from underrepresented groups, to learn about computer science and digital technology.

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