Scratch...programming for dummies or a solid intro to object orientation?

Probably both. Scratch is a new program from the MIT Media Lab that lets students (and anyone else who wants to play with funky sprites and interesting bits of code) easily create and share animations created through drag and drop programming and simple Paint-like image editing.

Probably both. Scratch is a new program from the MIT Media Lab that lets students (and anyone else who wants to play with funky sprites and interesting bits of code) easily create and share animations created through drag and drop programming and simple Paint-like image editing. While it sounds pretty juvenile, it has kept a high school web design class with a bad case of end-of-year-itis occupied for a couple of days. The tools, in fact, are sophisticated enough that a couple-week curriculum on object-oriented programming could be built around them. On the other hand, any grade schooler could also try their hand at making a cat move, jump, and flip, while thinking about program design, sequencing, and logic.

The program and source code are a free download at scratch.mit.edu and are well worth the time. See the image gallery for some screenshots (sorry, Windows and Mac only for right now, although it runs fine virtualized). It's also light enough to run well on our thin clients. A quick install on the server and the kids were up and running in no time. Check it out...This can get quite sophisticated and bodes well for a new level of interactivity, accessible to a wide variety of users.  It's also a really cool introduction to more serious programming concepts.