Raspberry Pi gets MIT's Scratch 3 programming language for Raspbian

MIT Media Lab's Scratch 3 programming language is now available to install on Raspberry Pi.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Scratch 3.0, a visual language programming language from MIT Media Lab, can now run on the official Raspberry Pi operating system, Raspbian. But you'll probably need a Raspberry Pi 4 with 2GB of RAM to try it. 

Ever since Scratch 3 was released this January, a team at the Raspberry Pi Foundation has been working with MIT to develop an offline, installable version for the Raspberry Pi. 

SEE: Six in-demand programming languages: Getting started (free PDF)

That offline version is now available, offering students and beginners an easy environment to begin coding with the language's visual 'code blocks', as well as paint and sound-editing tools. 

Scratch 3 requires installing the latest version of Raspbian known as 'Buster', the latest version of Debian Linux that was released alongside the Raspberry Pi 4 in June. 

Due to the memory requirements of Scratch 3, the Raspberry Pi Foundation is recommending it is installed on a Raspberry Pi 4 with at least 2GB of RAM. The 2GB model costs $45.  

"While you can run Scratch 3 on a Raspberry Pi 2, 3, 3B+, or a Raspberry 4 with 1GB RAM, performance on these models is reduced, and depending on what other software you run at the same time, Scratch 3 may fail to start due to lack of memory," notes Raspberry Pi Foundation's Martin O'Hanlon.    

The new Scratch 3 support for the Raspberry Pi comes just ahead of the first Scratch Conference Europe, a three-day event at Churchill College in Cambridge that kicks off on Friday, August 23.   

There are also new extensions in Scratch 3 for Raspbian that allows users to create Scratch code to control the GPIO pins on the tiny computer as well as a Raspberry Pi add-on Sense HAT. This will let users control other devices from the Raspberry Pi. 

The Simple Electronics extension offers a way to use buttons and LEDs connected to GPIO pins. Meanwhile, a new Sense HAT extension includes new code blocks that allow the HAT to sense tilting, shaking and orientation; use the joystick; measure temperature, air pressure, and humidity; and use the LED matrix to display text, characters, and patterns. 

Raspberry Pi Foundation is also planning on creating software to enable extensions for micro:bit and LEGO devices with Scratch 3.

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