Scratch 3: what does the new version of Scratch mean for your Code Club?

The team behind Scratch have announced that they are releasing a new version of the drag-and-drop programming language in January 2019. Here Martin O’Hanlon, Content and Curriculum Manager at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, tells us what this means for people running Code Clubs, and what new features you can look forward to.

A new version of Scratch is on its way, and it looks fantastic!

Scratch 3 will be the latest version of the free block-based programming language that you’re familiar with, and there is a lot to be excited about. The Scratch team has released the beta version of Scratch 3 at beta.scratch.mit.edu, and it’s definitely worth a try.

New in version 3

The look and feel have been given an upgrade, with perhaps the most notable change being that the stage is now on the right-hand side. Plus, there are new paint and sound editing tools, and larger, easier-to-read code blocks.

user-interface

There are also loads of new sprites, backdrops, and sounds.

sprites

The Scratch team has also released a new extension system that allows you to use web services such as Google Translate in your projects.

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There are also new extensions for hardware such as micro:bit and LEGO Mindstorms, making it much easier to use Scratch to program these devices.

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And another very exciting update: Scratch 3 will work on tablets, making coding more accessible to those children who don’t have access to a computer.

tablet

Release dates

Scratch 3 will be released on 2 January 2019. It will replace the current Scratch 2 editor on scratch.mit.edu, meaning Scratch 2 will no longer be available online. At this point, you’ll also be able to download and install an offline version of Scratch 3.

If you are using Internet Explorer as your browser, then please note that it will not support Scratch 3. Scratch 3 will however be supported on the newer version of the Microsoft browser, Edge.

On our side, by January 2019 we will also update the Code Club projects so that they work with Scratch 3, although we’ll make sure that Scratch 2–compatible versions remain available so that you have time to upgrade your offline versions.

And we’ll also release brand-new Scratch 3 projects, which will take advantage of the newly introduced features, before January so that your club members can start to have fun with the new version.

Talk to us about Scratch 3

If you have any questions about the upcoming release of Scratch 3,  feel free to reach out to us via hello@codeclub.org.uk or on Twitter and Facebook.

You can also share your experience of using the Scratch 3 beta version with our community on social media — we’d love to see your projects and experiments!

Code Club ideas: young people teach their peers how to code

To inspire more young people to fall in love with computer science, some Code Club volunteers and teachers have had a brilliant idea: get the young people to do the teaching! Here we talk to members of two different Code Clubs that are led by teenagers, and that prove that young people often are the best role models.

St Mary’s and St John’s CofE School

Calvin Robinson is the Assistant Principal and Head of Computing at St Mary’s and St John’s CofE School (SMSJ) in London. He currently runs two Code Clubs in the school as a way to encourage pupils to have fun with computing outside of the curriculum.

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Mr Robinson with the Code Club mentors

One of the Code Clubs is exclusively for Year 8 girls, and it’s run by six girls from Mr Robinson’s GCSE Computer Science cohort:

“The idea behind this was that as a male teacher I appreciate that I may not be the best person to bridge the gender gap, but I certainly recognise it as an issue.”
– Calvin Robinson, Assistant Principal and Head of Computing

Positive role models for younger learners

Interest in the club is high, with a huge amount of Year 8 girls wanting to get involved. Being taught by older girls means that the learners can identify with the people teaching them, and they learn to view what their older peers have achieved as possible for themselves.

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Mr Robinson thinks that participating in Code Club enables the Year 8 girls to become more confident and passionate about the subject, making them more likely to take GCSE Computer Science next year.

“We currently have a higher than national average number of girls taking GCSE Computer Science, and it’s the most popular GCSE option in the school, but we’ve still got a long way to go in bridging that gender gap.”
– Mr Robinson

Benefits for the teenagers

Of course it’s not just the younger pupils who benefit from having older students as their mentors: running a Code Club also gives the GCSE students the perfect opportunity to solidify their coding skills:

“I like how I get a chance to develop my coding skills by teaching younger children. Coding is hard to explain and understand, and being able to teach others is a whole other skill, which is why it has helped me so much in my Computer Science GCSE.”
– Weronika Pawelczak, GCSE Computer Science student and Code Club volunteer

“Running the sessions means that I get to consolidate my knowledge and share it with younger people who may take Computer Science GCSE in the future. Also, the sessions improve my coding and I learn new things I could use in my code in lessons. For me individually, it has boosted my confidence to socialise more.”
– Nadia Wu, GCSE Computer Science student and Code Club volunteer

The Year 10 girls at SMSJ are clearly proud to be encouraging younger girls to fall in love with computing. They also think that more female Computer Science GCSE students should be setting up similar clubs, seeing how successful it has been in their school.

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Dragon Hall community centre

Another Code Club that is partly led by a teenage volunteer is one at Dragon Hall community centre in London. After volunteering at the centre over the summer, secondary school student Alvin was encouraged to participate in running their weekly Code Club.

Club host Keeley Reed has been hugely impressed by the effect Alvin has on the club members:

“Having a student volunteer allows the young people to have a role model to look up to. Alvin has been an asset to the group, as the young people connect with him very well. He brings the whole package to Code Club, that you wouldn’t get with adults.”
– Keeley Reed, Youth Work Manager at Dragon Hall and Code Club host

Like the girls at SMSJ, Alvin recognises the positive impact that helping at Code Club is having on his studies:

“I am now a lot better at explaining concepts, especially in exams, because
explaining code to children always has to be clear and precise. Teaching helps me learn new things as well, because I have to explain concepts very clearly so that the children understand.”
– Alvin, secondary school student and Code Club volunteer

Start a student-led Code Club

Peer-led Code Clubs offer huge benefits, not only for the learners but also for the young people leading the clubs. If you’re starting a Code Club in your school this term, why not get one of your older students to act as a mentor? Anyone over 16 can sign up on our website and help run a Code Club alongside an adult — find out more at www.codeclub.org.uk.

Behind the scenes at Code Club: website updates

Here at Code Club HQ, we’re always thinking up new ways of improving everything we do. In this blog, Senior Programme Manager Sarah Sheerman-Chase tells you about our new project to transform the Code Club website.

This year we decided it was time to review our websites. We started with codeclub.org.uk and our overarching aim is to improve the online experience for our community across the world.

Starting out with research

Before we put pen to paper or code into computer, we started with research: we wanted to find out what the people who run Code Clubs really need from our website.

Starting at a meetup in Manchester, our intrepid researcher spoke to volunteers across the UK from Fife to Cambridge, and connected with the folk helping to run Code Club in Bangladesh and New Zealand.

Overall, you told us that you want:

  • The easiest possible online journey to get involved with Code Club, with lots of access to guidance along the way
  • More ways to get involved — not just by starting a club, but also by helping at an existing club or assisting with project translations
  • A more “grown-up” look to the site
  • A site that shows what a Code Club looks like, with photos and stories from the 11000 clubs around the world

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    The new website will showcase stories from our global community

What we’ve done so far

We took the thoughts and ideas from the research and used them to workshop new user journeys and structure for the site.

Then our team of developers and designers got stuck into the task of making all the ideas a reality.

The homepage will have a fresh new look, with lots of information on how volunteers and schools can get involved with Code Club, and photos of clubs in action across the globe.

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Early sketches of the new Code Club homepage


We have also spent time re-building the steps to start a club and get involved as a volunteer, to make the online journey as smooth as possible.

What’s next, and how you can help

Well, we’ve got lots to do, because we hope to release a beta version of the site for UK users over at codeclub.org.uk in autumn! Keep an eye on your inbox — we’ll be updating everyone in the UK Code Club community via our newsletter. What’s more, we plan to start work on our global sites next year – if you are based outside of the UK, follow our international newsletter for more information.

Our fabulous Code Club Champions have already given their support by testing and sharing feedback on our early work-in-progress, but we need your help as well! We’re looking for people who already run Code Clubs, and people who are thinking of getting involved but don’t run clubs yet, to spend around 30 minutes on a video call with us, trying the site out and giving their honest opinions on it. If you’re based in the UK and would like to help, please drop us a line at support@codeclub.org.uk