Why Is Scratch a Turtle? Is It an Animal? No, Let’s Learn About His Previous Life: Logo Language


Inspired by a turtle

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The inspiration for the development of Scratch can be traced back to 1968. This year, Seymour Papert developed a programming language known as Logo, which is also the world’s first programming language for teaching children.

Unlike other computer languages at that time, the main function of Logo is drawing. When entering the Logo interface, the cursor will be replaced by a flashing turtle. After inputting the language and instructions such as “forward 25” and “left 11”, which are easy for children to understand, the little turtle will walk around the screen and draw specific geometric figures.

Throughout the 1980s, thousands of students around the world were learning the Logo language. However, the enthusiasm for learning dissipated quickly. On the one hand, the process of writing the logo program is full of syntax and punctuation that are not intuitive enough. On the other hand, students are not interested in the tasks completed by using Logo. Learning Logo becomes a technical job, not about creation.

Such a result deviates from the original intention of Seymour Papert’s logo language, that is, to give children the opportunity to use technology to build knowledge, solve problems and express themselves creatively. So, based on the original intention of Logo, Mitchell Resnick improved on three aspects of operability, significance, and sociability, and designed the Scratch programming platform

The name “Scratch” comes from the scene of a DJ playing with a disc: moving the disc back and forth, and mixing different pieces of music together in a creative way. In the Scratch programming environment, users will also put pictures, animation, photos, music, sound, and other media forms together in the program just like DJs.

Digital Lego building blocks

In the Scratch programming interface, program statements are presented in the form of puzzle modules, which are divided into different colors according to their functions. When writing a program, users only need to put the puzzle modules together like a piece of bricks. Only when the program is syntactically compliant and reasonable can the interface of the module be connected.


LOGO language+Lego building blocks: the birth of Scratch

In the 1980s, another young journalist who was also inspired by Seymour Papert was later “the father of Scratch” – Mitchel Resnick.

Resnick inherited the idea of his tutor Piput, borrowed the design essence of the LOGO language and Lego building blocks, and launched Scratch, a building block graphical programming language that is easier for children to understand, in 2003. Scratch was first opened to the public for free in 2007.

Scratch makes it easier and more interesting for children to learn programming. Through the Scratch work community, more children have formed sharing and communication with their peers, teachers, and parents.

Scratch is a “physical turtle”, which combines virtual programming with physical hardware available to touch to make programming more concrete and further inspire children’s creativity.

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